Shimon Peres Calls on Football Association to Stop Racist Chants
President Shimon Peres sent a letter on Tuesday to the chairman of the Football Association, strongly condemning the organization for not speaking out against the racism and incitement by fans that has been developing within the league.
The letter comes ahead of today's game between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Umm al-Pahem, which Beitar initially requested be played without fans present following the arrests of three people for screaming racist chants and holding up racist signs.
In the letter, Peres asked the association to help in quelling the chants.
"In light of recent racism and on the evening of the game between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Umm al - Pahem, I wish to appeal to you to send a call to the football fans in the audience to refrain from any expression and manifestation of racism, both on and off the court," Peres wrote.
"Recent events at a game of Beitar's are worthy of every condemnation. Racism is something which has struck a fatal blow to the Jewish people more than any other nation in the world. And it is up to all the authorities to nip it in the bud."
"I am sure that the people are deeply moved by this phenomenon and would never accept it. The sport today has received a universal declaration against racism. It is inconceivable that the opposite would happen in Israel. I'm sure that your compliance and determination until now will lead the fight against these phenomena," the president continued.
Beitar Jerusalem requested from the Football Association on Monday to play their match against Umm al Fahm, without fans in the audience after three of their fans were arrested Saturday night during a game for racist chants of "No entry to Arabs” and for holding up racist signs which read, “Beitar forever pure.""
The remarks were aimed at two players from Chechnya who are slated to become the first Muslim players to join Beitar Jerusalem.