Football: Israel club official quits after anti-Muslim remark

Chechen football players Dzhabrail Kadaev, left, and Zaur Sadaev, right, are watched by their new coach Eli Cohen as they hold their shirts during their introduction by the Beitar Jerusalem football club to the press in Jerusalem, on January 30, 2013. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 15 September 2017
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Football: Israel club official quits after anti-Muslim remark

JERUSALEM: The professional adviser of an Israeli football club known for its far-right fan base has resigned after saying he would never sign a Muslim player, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Eli Cohen, a veteran manager who was hired to the position at Beitar Jerusalem earlier this month, had said that past attempts to bring Muslim players to the club failed bitterly.
“I experienced firsthand what happened when Muslim players came five years ago, and therefore I’d never bring a Muslim player to Beitar,” he said in a Wednesday interview with the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
Cohen had been Beitar’s manager three times in the past, including in 2013 when the club signed two Muslim players from Chechnya, angering some fans and forcing the team to hire bodyguards to protect them.
Stressing he had coached “many Arab and Muslim players” at other clubs he had managed over the years, Cohen said anyone who called him a racist was “stupid.”
Just hours after the remarks were published, Beitar chairman and Israeli footballing great Eli Ohana summoned Cohen to a meeting and the adviser apologized and resigned, a club spokesman said.
Beitar, known for its anti-Arab chants and often violent ultra-nationalist Jewish fans, has been struggling to change its racist image.
Last month, it was awarded an anti-racism prize by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for its youth work and establishment of a forum to deal with incitement and racism.
The club, the only team in the Israeli league that has never had an Arab Muslim player, has a controversial history.
Its fans often sing anti-Palestinian chants at matches, including “Death to Arabs.”
They have also chanted support for Yigal Amir, a far-right Jewish nationalist who assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
The signing of Chechens Dzhabrail Kadaev and Zaur Sadaev prompted angry fans to set fire to the club’s offices in an act that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a lifelong Beitar fan, described as “shameful.”
Last year, 19 members of Beitar’s ultra-nationalist La Familia fan group were charged with attempted murder, including of rival supporters.
After three games, Beitar is leading the Israeli premier league, having finished third last season.


UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

Updated 24 min 20 sec ago
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UAE minister: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

  • Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000
  • The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa

DUBAI: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah will take a “calculated and gradual” approach to the battle, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday.

The comments came after witnesses said eight villagers had been killed and 15 others wounded when Houthi militia shelled a village in the center of the country called Haglan Maris.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was taking into consideration a “fragile humanitarian situation,” avoiding civilian casualties in addition to military calculations.

Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000. He declined to reveal the size of coalition forces but said they had “numerical superiority.”

He said that the Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time.

Gargash added that the Hodeidah port is a “major artery” for weapons smuggling from Iran to the Houthis.

“The liberation of Hodeidah is a major step in freeing Sanaa,” the UAE minister said, adding that “the roads leading to the port are filled with mines.”

France is said to be helping the Arab coalition in demining the roads.

“We have opened the road from Hodeidah to Sanaa to allow the militias to flee without resistance,” Gargash said.

The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa for emergency talks.

Martin Griffiths was expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee and halt heavy clashes against advancing government troops backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(With AFP, AP & Reuters)