Racist Beitar Jerusalem Soccer Fans Are Outnumbered by Sane Majority

The wretched La Familia gang, which has given the Beitar Jerusalem team a bad name, never looked so dejected and defeated as at the end of Sunday's soccer match.

With a two-goal advantage for Bnei Sakhnin, there were surely many Dostoyevsky fans who spoke of crime and punishment. Here Beitar Jerusalem, the racist team that hates Arabs, was getting its comeuppance, on its home turf, that filthy place where that accursed sign was hanging. And there were all the fans watching their dreams of reaching the playoffs fading away.

However, that is exactly the attitude the wretched La Familia gang is seeking to light up the stands of Teddy Stadium. They want to convince everyone that the arrival of the two Muslim players to the team is responsible for the mental block gripping the team. Beitar was a team which was the surprise of the season until three weeks ago, and since that moment when the two showed up, the team has lost three consecutive matches.

The truth is that Beitar has become weaker recently. However, the reason lies in the team's overall performance and not, heaven forbid, related to nationality or religion. The team is too short-handed, and the quality of the players is thin. The team had reached the limits of its ability.

Eli Cohen, the head coach, squeezed the lemon nearly to the end. The atrocious lack of a true striker can no longer be obfuscated. Haim Megrelashvili, playing on the wing, makes costly errors almost every time he touches the ball. Kobi Moyal and Dario Ferrnandez racked up the paltry mileage that would be more likely found in a collector's automobile.

Beitar, which even the nauseating handful knew, desperately needed players to improve the team, despite the club's empty pockets. However, from their perspective, to hell with the whole season as long as the team they stick to like leeches remains pure. They couldn't care less about the titles and the wins. In all its history, Beitar has never known people who hate this much.

Sakhnin was better. It rightly took a two-goal lead. It could also have sent Beitar to a rare, humiliating defeat if it had only exploited half the scoring opportunities it had.

The problem is that Sakhnin sufficed with the lead it built and sought to kill the clock until the final whistle. Beitar, Sakhnin figured, was so divided that it did not pose a threat. Well, that was a big mistake.

Beitar's players started pushing forward and tried to get a miracle to cut the visitors' lead. When Eran Levy accomplished this with a solo performance, the yellow volcano exploded. The handful of rabble rousers were dumbstruck and disappeared. The Western side of the stands sent the decibel meter rising and coach Cohen knew that it was now or never.

In the 79th minute, it became clear that not only does a Chechen Muslim athlete practice with Beitar but he also plays. Dzhabrail Kadiyev entered the game and created a rare moment of unity between Beitar fans and Sakhnin fans, who together welcomed him with applause. Representatives of La Familia watched that very moment when the nail went into the coffin of what had been their team.

Over the course of the whole game, they were defeated by the sane Beitar fans – the overwhelming majority, who simply shut them up and scorned them every time they threatened to poison the atmosphere. Now the official signal was given to eradicate them. In the 85th minute, in order to ensure at no one would have any doubt, Beitar equalized.

I have no idea which story will emerge from this game but anyone who knows the Beitar experience intimately knows something big happened. The boors never looked so dejected and defeated.

Last month, prosecutors filed indictments against four Beitar Jerusalem fans for racism, including the harassment of the soccer team's two new Muslim players from Chechnya, Gabriel Kadiev and Sadaev.

All four fans are between 22 and 24 years of age. Three of them were indicted for making racist statements during Beitar's game against Bnei Yehuda last month. A fourth fan, 23, was charged with harassing the two Muslim players during their first practice with the team last week.

Days later, the management offices of the club were torched at its training ground in Bayit Vegan, causing serious damage. An investigator from the fire department said the fire bore signs of arson.

Nimrod Glickman