The new owner of Beitar Jerusalem has said he is kicking racism out of the famed Israeli football club by threatening to sue racist fans.
Moshe Hogeg, who bought the club in 2018, decided the courts were the best way to deal with a group of hardcore racist Beitar fans – known as La Familia – who were proud that theirs was the only Israeli club never to have had an Arab player.
Speaking to BBC News, he said: “The reputation [for racism] was very, very bad, and that was one of the reasons why I decided to take the challenge.”
Last year Ali Muhamed, a Christian from Niger with a Muslim name, joined the club, prompting angry reactions from some fans. Hogeg stepped in. “The way that I chose was to sue, personally, for damages, for damaging the reputation of the club, which is millions,” he said.
It worked – there have since been no racist incidents in the stadium, and fans even chanted Muhamed’s name after his recent goal-scoring.
“This is a huge moment for Beitar Jerusalem,” said Hogeg, “when a player called Ali Muhamed scores, wearing the Muhamed name on the back, and all the crowd cheering and calling his name.”