Beitar Jerusalem Football Club is often a source of interest for the international media, a club infamous for being the only team in the Israeli 14-member Premier League that has never signed an Arab player, and for its racist “La Familia” group of hardcore fans who, by the end of the turbulent 2012/13 season, forced the removal of two Muslim players from the squad.
In recent years, CAMERA analysts have noted that media coverage of Beitar is often obsessive, myopic and plagued by double-standards. We’ve noted that ethnic and religious tensions in football teams’ hiring practices, and racism by fans, is not at all a phenomenon that’s unique to Israel. Moreover, we’ve criticised tendentious media reports which misleadingly draw broad conclusions about Israeli society based on the behavior of one team and some of their fans.
An article at Sky News Arabia – a joint venture between the UK-based Sky News and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation – from earlier this month (“Messi is a member of a club that holds strong racism towards Arabs”, December 6th), however, went one step beyond that, by erroneously claiming that “for many years”, the Beitar failed to hire non-Jews altogether:
Here’s the original Arabic:
Here’s the English translation:
“For many [literally: long] years, the club has been following a policy of signing [contracts] only with players of the Jewish faith. This previous trend changed recently, a fact that creates antagonism among its fans”.
This is not accurate.
The truth is that Beitar had at least one non–Jewish player at all times since the early 90s through to the current year, five of those players being Muslims (though some of them, as previously mentioned, have indeed suffered various levels of hostility from racist fans).
(This story was researched and written by CAMERA Arabic)