'It's not racism. The Muslim players just shouldn't be here' - When a Chechen striker scored on his debut for Beitar Jerusalem, its hard-core right-wing fans walked out, reports Alistair Dawber.
What provoked their ire is the decision earlier in the season by Beitar’s president Arkady Gaydamak – father of Alexandre, former owner of Portsmouth FC – to sign two Chechen Muslims, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev. They are two of just five non-Israeli players ever to represent the club, which has strong links to the Israeli right.
Only the 23 year-old Sadayev, a big, heavy-set striker, played against Netanya on Sunday. In the first half, boos rang around the stadium every time he touched the ball. But what happened next was not La Familia’s script. Sadayev – who has been accompanied by a bodyguard since his arrival in Jerusalem from Chechen side Terek Grozny – ran on to a pass just after half time and slid the ball past Netanya’s goalkeeper. It was his first goal for the club. Beitar’s best player, the Argentinian Dario Fernandez, jumped on Sadayev’s shoulders and celebrated with him, but the reaction in the crowd was confused to say the least. In one stand supporters screamed with elation, but behind the goal, in the La Familia end, hundreds walked out