Fighting Racism in Football

NIF's Kick it Out (KIO) programme and the NIF-supported Tag Meir coalition recently organised an anti-racism demonstration at the main Jerusalem football stadium.  

The event was held prior to a Premier League game with mainly Arab team, Bnei Sakhnin, in response to increased racism following Beitar Jerusalem’s signing of two Chechen-Muslim players.They were the first Muslim players to be signed by the club, long associated with Israel's political right. Following the announcement, an extremist fan group sang anti-Muslim chants, waved racist banners at a match and booed the Muslim players in training. In a separate incident, the club's offices and museum were set on fire.

In solidarity with the vast majority of Beitar fans, NIF and Tag Meir organised the anti-racism demonstration under the banner of "Jerusalem Tolerant Forever". Some 200 people listened to speeches supporting the club and the municipality's efforts to combat racism - emphasising that Beitar Jerusalem belongs to its tolerant majority.

Speakers included sports and political personalities. Avraham Burg, former Knesset speaker and member of NIF's International Council said, “There is no place for racism in sport. Jerusalem is a city of many peoples, a city of tolerance."  The event received widespread international media coverage.

Since its founding a decade ago, NIF's KIO programme has highlighted and brought solutions to the problem of football racism. Beitar's track record and fan behaviour have previously earned official reprimand. These events provide an historic opportunity to uproot racism from the club and impact on anti-racism struggles throughout Israel.    

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