Arab-Israeli soccer team fined for honoring ex-Knesset lawmaker


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli soccer team was fined for honoring former Knesset lawmaker Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel amid accusations of treason and espionage.

The Bnei Sakhnin club was fined $4,000 on Wednesday by the Israel Football Association’s disciplinary court for its tribute to Bishara, who was accused of providing information to the terrorist group Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Bishara left Israel in 2007 while under investigation and now lives in Qatar.

The club also was levied a suspended fine of about $10,000. It said it would not appeal the fine.

The Oct. 18 tribute also honored an anonymous Qatari donor who gave $2 million to the team, the only Arab club in Israel’s Premiere League.

The team’s stadium is called Doha Stadium, named for the capital of Qatar. It was built with millions of dollars in donations from Qatar.

Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat earlier in the week had threatened to remove the Jerusalem-based squad from the league, saying in a statement that penalties and fines “are not sufficient measure.”

During the Oct. 18 match against Hapoel Tel Aviv, Sakhnin fans raised a banner reading “Jerusalem is ours” beneath a picture of the Al-Aksa Mosque in the city.

Recommended from JTA