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Feb 19, 2013

Israeli club urged to stamp out racism

Beitar Jerusalem are set to be probed by Israeli police as part of a crackdown on racism in the country's first division.

Beitar will be used as an example for Israel's racism issues after last week's training ground incident in which fans set the club's offices on fire in protest of the signing of two Muslim players - Zaur Sadaev and Gabriel Kadiev - from Chechnya.

Following the outburst, prosecutors charged four fans with racist chanting and Beitar has now been urged to take a firm stance to prevent future occurences.

"The authorities charged with applying the law must act with determination, with a firm hand and in the long term, to bring an end to racism in football, especially at Beitar," Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said in a letter to Beitar's management.

Over the decades, Beitar Jerusalem has won support from fans on the far-right fringe of Israeli society. The club was founded in 1936, in what was then British-ruled Palestine, by a right-wing Revisionist Zionist youth movement called Beitar.

In the early days, many of its players belonged to the Irgun, the hardline Zionist militia that fought the British until Israel's creation in 1948, the supporters' website says.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.