By Marcus Dysch
November 14, 2012
A fascinating new short documentary looks at the vile racist abuse regularly displayed by the “fans” of Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem. American sports journalist Jeremy Schaap investigates the history of Beitar’s “La Familia” ultras who hound Arab players throughout the Israeli leagues. The ESPN film also features footage of the sickening attack carried out by Beitar followers at a shopping centre in the Israeli capital earlier this year. Club chairman Itzik Kornfein explains how the fans’ militancy has led to Beitar never buying Arab or Muslim players. Beitar is the only club in Israel’s top division never to have had an Arab player. Schaap interviews Arabs and Muslims from Israeli Premier League sides including Bnei Saknin and hears of the racist abuse and violence directed at them. Salim Tuama – who played 13 times for Israel and has made hundreds of appearances for Hapoel Tel Aviv – explains how even his feats for the national side could not protect him from the Islamaphobic bile spouted from the terraces at Beitar. Schaap also looks at the Israeli Football Association’s lacklustre attempts to punish Beitar for their fans’ actions. The film is a must-watch for genuine fans disgusted by the rise of racism in football across Europe. There is no place in the beautiful game for racism of any nature. Beitar’s “fans” are a stain on Israeli football. Their abuse has been allowed to flourish for too long. They must be dealt with firmly, and fast.