Saturday, April 27, 2013

From Chechnya with ..Soccer

Chechnya, a small country in the Caucasus area of the Russian Federation, has been in the news lately;  the two bombers in the Boston marathon tragedy are originally from that part of the world.

In Israel, two chechen football players (Dzhabrail Kadaiyev and Zaur Sadayev) were the passive protagonists of a big drama at the beginning of this year. And this is the story:

The owner of a major football club in Jerusalem (Beitar club), a russian-israeli oligarch, decided to hire two muslim football players from Chechnya despite the strong objection of the team' s supporters.. Motive: the team needed reinforcement, and the two players , he believed, will do a good job.

 Beitar fans, anti-arab oriented, stated they would not have a muslim player wear the club's uniform. The arrival of the two chechen players (see the above photo with the two in Beitar uniform) sparked a series of provocative actions by the Beitar  hardcore fans:  harassment of the chechens, protests (including racist banners), cursing, and even torching of the club's offices.

The atmosphere became so "hot" that the PM, the President, the Mayor of Jerusalem, and other political and cultural personalities  in the country stood up to condemn the highly provocative attitude displayed by Beitar supporters  towards the two football players from Chechnya.There were also some arrests  carried out among those fans.

I don't know much about sports, but it seems football can bring out the worst in people.