Last week Steaua owner Gigi Becali said: “I don’t fight with women, I will ignore her. I think women shouldn’t be in football. If Alona comes to the return leg, I will respect her, show her my appreciation, but I won’t talk about football with her.”
Hapoel spokesman Gil Lebanony told the JC: “As the club’s owner Alona attends every Hapoel match. We are not commenting on what was said.”
Becali did not attend his team’s 2-1 victory last week in Beer Sheva, and when asked if Barkat would shake hands with him in Romania, Lebanony replied: “Yes. Hapoel Beer Sheva is a club that respects everybody regardless of gender, religion or race.”
That cannot be said of Becali who is known for his racist, sexist and homophobic views. A former member of the Romanian parliament, he was forced to resign after being convicted for corruption. Becali once said that a woman has no value after giving birth.
Hapoel’s fans would beg to differ. Barkat bought the club 10 years ago when it was struggling in Israel’s second division and after winning promotion several years later, she has led the team to back-to-back premier league titles over the past two seasons — their first titles in 40 years.
UEFA has begun disciplinary proceedings against Becali after the New Israel Fund’s Let’s Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football campaign brought Becali’s sexist comments to their attention.