Beitar Jerusalem football official quits after 'anti-Muslim remark'
The professional adviser to a notorious right-wing Israeli football club in Jerusalem resigned on Thursday after saying he would never sign a Muslim player.
Beitar Jerusalem football club is the only team in the Israeli league that has never had an Arab-Muslim player and its fans often sing anti-Palestinian chants at matches, including "Death to Arabs".
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 first-hand 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.
Furious fans set fire to the club's offices in protest at the Muslim signings.
Just hours after Cohen's remarks were published, Beitar chairman and Israeli footballing great Eli Ohana summoned Cohen to a meeting and the adviser apologised and resigned, a club spokesman said.
Despite it's a hard-core racist fan base, last month the club was awarded an anti-racism prize by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin for its youth work to deal with incitement.
Fans often also chant support for Yigal Amir, a far-right Jewish nationalist who assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 just two years after the Oslo Accords were signed.
Last year, 19 members of Beitar's ultra-nationalist La Familia fan group were charged with attempted murder, including of rival supporters.