JERUSALEM (JTA) – Some 75 Israeli soccer fans were removed from a game between Beitar Jerusalem and the Israeli-Arab Bnei Sakhnin team for anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim taunting.
Police removed an equal number of fans from each team — many before Sunday’s match at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem even started — according to reports. Hundreds of police were called in to secure some 9,000 spectators for the game.
Fans of the two teams have clashed in the past. In addition, Beitar Jerusalem fans over the past two weeks have protested the recent hiring of two Muslim players from the Chechen Terek Gorzny team.
While many Beitar Jerusalem fans shouted for the new Muslim players to "go home," some cheered loudly when one of the two new players, Gabriel Kadiev, took the field and each time he touched the ball, according to reports.
The game ended in a 2-2 tie.
On Feb. 8, arsonists set fire to the trophy room of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team following the indictment of four fans for anti-Muslim hate speech.
Hours before the match, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Israeli soccer fans to reject racism.
“The last thing we want, and which we absolutely reject is violence, racism and boycotts. These are unacceptable to us. I say this in regards to a team that I have supported for years, Beitar Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said Sunday morning at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Lately, we have seen displays of extremism that we find unacceptable. These must be uprooted from the public sphere and, of course, from the world of sports.”