Beitar Jerusalem and racism in Israeli football

A section of the Beitar Jerusalem support are known said to be racist during and outside of matches, and the club itself is accused of adopting a racist transfer policy, with both FIFA and the Israeli government failing to effectively intervene.

In March 2013, Zaur Sadayev became the first Muslim player to score for Israeli side Beitar Jerusalem. What followed in the stadium laid bare the racism festering deep within a core segment of the fan base at the club, with a mass-walkout instigated by the infamous ‘La Familia’.

Sadayev’s strike put Beitar one goal to the good against Netanya, with members of Beitar’s extremist supporters group leaving en mass, booing and chanting racist songs.

Some of these songs translate as: “Here we are, the most racist football team in the country”, and “Death to Arabs” – both of which heard at most Beitar matches, and is still sung to the rafters by the group today.

Then-vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon condemned the show of racism after the game.

“I was shocked by the racism displayed in the Beitar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim or Arab players on the team.”

The actions of La Familia have led to numerous bans, sanctions and points deductions for their club – but the group still exist. According to newspaper Haaretz, it is the lack of effective anti-racism measures from the government that remains the issue, with their apparent outrage concerning incidents not backed up by national policies.

“(Prime Minister) Netanyahu and (culture and sports minister) Regev are preaching to others what they themselves do not practice,” an editorial from Haaretz in 2014 says.

“With their racist remarks (‘The Arabs are flocking to the polling stations’), their conduct (threatening the funding of Arab cultural institutions) and their antidemocratic legislation – which is so typical of the government they head – they legitimize the phenomenon called Beitar Jerusalem.”

Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestine Football Association, highlighted football’s world governing body FIFA’s failure to properly address the situation.

“While Israel continues to participate in Fifa matches internationally with impunity, Palestinian football players have been shot and arrested, our football association raided by Israeli army forces, our clubs more often than not forbidden from bringing players, coaches or even materials from abroad, just as the restriction of movement imposed on our players and technical staff, within, from and to Palestine have turned the game into a real act of resistance.”

Beitar are a symbol of right-wing Israel, having been established in 1936 as part of a nationalist Israeli movement – with the club’s signing of non-Jews, even on loan, prompting a vicious backlash and revolt from the hard-core support.

While Zaur Sadayev is just one of the five Muslim players ever to play for the club – the goalscorer lasting just a year amid torrential abuse – Beitar remain the only club to refuse to hire a Palestinian, despite repeat sanctions and fines from the IFA (Israeli Football Association).

Haaretz see Beitar as a vehicle for the manifestation of discrimination, rightly concluding that, “There is no value to a sport that is supposed to give people equal opportunities and treatment without reference to religion, race or gender, when it becomes a focus for discrimination and racism.”

NBA superstar Stephen Curry speaks of Lionel Messi admiration

NBA superstar Stephen Curry has admitted that he is a big fan of Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi.

The two global sporting stars are at the pinnacle of their respective sports, with the duo widely acknowledged as the best players on the planet in basketball and football.

Curry led the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Championship in 2014-15, being crowned the division’s MVP in the process.

The 27-year-old has started this campaign in blistering form and acted as a talisman for his team, who have become the first side to start an NBA season with 16 consecutive victories.

Despite his own achievements over the last 12 months, Curry has taken time out to speak of his admiration for another sports superstar, Messi, and compared himself to the South American.

“We both have a creative style, where it’s just about a feel when you’re out on the pitch or the court,” he told reporters after his side’s most recent win.

“I try to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and kind of having a certain creativity and flair to my game.

“And that’s definitely the style that Messi has when he’s out there in his matches. I love watching him play. I’m a big fan.

“And to see just a guy that you never know what he’s going to do at any particular moment – when he’s on TV, everybody is glued in because, as soon as he gets a touch with the ball, something special could happen. And you’ve got to appreciate that kind of talent.”

The Warriors will have the legendary 1971-72 LA Lakers team’s record of 33 consecutive wins in their sights, but Curry admitted that matching the west coast outfit’s landmark would take some doing.

“We’ve had like two 16-game winning streaks the last two years and those are pretty special feats,” the live-wire point guard continued.

“For us to have to double that output, I mean we’re going to play hard and hopefully close in on that record, but it won’t be a disappointing effort if we don’t get there.

“Because there are so many talented teams in this league and for us to just be playing at a high level right now that’s what we’re worried about. And if we close in and get to 29, 30 games, we’ll talk about it a little bit more.”

Rostov cancel Turkish training camp as international relations worsen

Russian Premier League club Rostov have cancelled a January training camp in Turkey as international relations worsen, with Ankar Perm seemingly set to follow suit.

Russian Premier League club Rostov have announced that they have cancelled plans to have a training camp in Turkey this January, as international relations between the countries worsen amid security fears.

Ankara shot down a Russian fighter jet in Syrian airspace earlier this week without warning, in the latest combustive action in tense affairs in eastern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

As such Russian president Vladimir Putin recommended that his countrymen and women should not visit Turkey due to security issues.

Turkey has been a popular destination for Russian sides to train during their mid-season hiatus, but the habit looks set to be changed.

Rostov deputy president Alexander Shikunov confirmed that the club would seek an alternative venue for training in the team’s winter break due to the current climate.

“We were planning to set up our January training camp in Turkey but decided to change this idea in connection with the latest events,” the Rostov official said.

“Many of the Russian clubs are currently seeking new bases for their training camps. We also decided that it’s better to be overcautious in such a situation.”

Following Rostov’s lead, Ankar Perm are also reassessing their scheduled training camp in the European country.

“We wanted to hold three practice sessions in Turkey in the winter but after the international climate has changed we are considering whether to choose Spain or Israel for our training camp,” Ankar’s club executive manager Denis Maslov stated.

Lance Armstrong’s former doctor to stand trial in doping crackdown

Lance Armstrong’s former physician Michele Ferrari has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly providing doping assistance to an Italian biathlete.

Daniel Taschler and his father, Gottlieb, a vice-president of the international federation were also indicted by a preliminary judge in Bolzano, Italy, on Wednesday. Taschler senior is accused of advising his son to use Ferrari for doping and contacting the doctor.

Banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation in 2002, Ferrari recently appealed to a regional court to have the ban quashed, with a decision expected in the next few months.

He also received a life-ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency after the 2012 case that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

Doping is a crime in Italy and Ferrari was cleared on appeal in 2006 of criminal charges of distributing banned products to athletes.

Taschler Sr is a vice-president and member of the International Biathlon Union executive board. After the investigation came to light last year, he announced he would cease any activities within the IBU.

Daniel Taschler, 28, was a member of Italy’s B squad when the inquiry started, and he was suspended immediately. His doping allegedly took place in the 2010-11 season. The Taschlers and Ferrari all deny any wrongdoing.

Austrian cross-country skier Harald Wurm has been provisionally suspended amid a doping investigation, a week before the start of the World Cup season.

The Head Coach of the cross-country team, Gerald Heigl, has temporarily stepped down until Wurm’s case is completed but denies being involved.

Police began an investigation during August into alleged doping violations by Wurm and searched the premises of the two-time Olympian.

The federation has seen police files and thinks Wurm has a case to answer. The 31-year-old athlete has been excluded from all team training and competitions, with just over a week to go before the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland, on 28-29 November.

Heigl’s name also appeared in the files, but the coach has claimed his innocence. He has decided to step down until his name has been cleared.

Wurm won the under-23 world title in 2006 and has four top-10 World Cup finishes. He competed in the sprint events at the 2006 and 2014 Olympics.

Wurm’s teammate, Johannes D¸rr, was banned for life last year by the federation after being dismissed from the Sochi Games 2014 for using the blood-doping agent EPO. If found guilty Wurm will be expelled from the federation.

The case could deal another blow to the damaged image of Austrian cross-country skiing, less than four years before Seefeld hosts the Nordic World Championships.

Former Olympic champion Christian Hoffmann retired in 2009 after being suspended for blood doping, while leading coach Walter Mayer was banned by the International Olympic Committee from Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.

Mayer did turn up at the 2006 Olympics, leading to an Italian police raid on Austrian team lodgings, in which blood doping equipment and other substances were seized. No Austrians tested positive at the games, but several were later banned for life by the IOC.

Has sport become more important than education at US universities?

For US colleges and universities, the sports they play have become more important than the subjects they teach. This is the other way round compared to almost all other countries, where sport is important but definitely secondary to education.

In the last week, two stories that show how big college sports are in the US have come to light: one that tells how the University of Missouri football team had the power to fire the university President after racial tension on campus and another that describes how the NCAA shut down a family-run website selling merchandise for one of college football’s top players, Leonard Fournette.

In both of these cases, it shows just how important football is to the university and the individuals involved. In Fournette’s case, he is one of the highest-profile college football athletes in America. He has been compared to two of the best running backs in history, Adrian Peterson and Herschel Walker – and he’s only a sophomore at university, 20 years old and two years out of high school.

In the other story, the University of Missouri being able to fire the university President, a similar thing has happened: the football team has more collective power than any other group at the university. Tensions were high at the Columbia campus, as racist attacks have occurred over the last few months, with a tepid response from the university administration. With scores of students going on a hunger strike, president Tim Wolfe didn’t budge – until the football team joined them. Less than 48 hours after, Wolfe had resigned.

So how has this happened? Because somehow, sport has become more important than education in most US universities. Part of why this has happened is money – there are millions of dollars in college sports and their players, such as Fournette. To a university in the current climate, this is worth more than a top professor or researcher who would be able to raise money in the form of a grant, plus the higher profile in the media that comes with it.

In other countries, such as the UK or European nations such as Spain, Italy, France or Germany, sport takes a backseat while at university. Instead, a potential superstar player in a sport such as soccer will have been head-hunted to play for a top team from a young age. As time goes on, gradually the player will be more included in the team through the youth squads, until they play for the club at a professional match. This is how top soccer players, such as Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney, came to be two of the best players in the sport.

The alternative US system won’t change any time soon – the Drafts for the respective sports are popular and broadcast on mainstream TV, with a lot of attention paid to who gets the first round pick. But it’s interesting to note how different this is to Europe and Asia’s player development programmes.

Islamic State terror attacks ravage Paris as France win 2-0 over Germany

Explosions could be heard during the first half, a friendly match between France and world champions Germany that took place at Stade de France. At full time, the fans filled the pitch as they sheltered from horrific acts of terror around the city.

The attacks were being carried out by members of Islamic State around the city of Paris, which has only recently recovered from the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January.

In the game itself, France defeated Germany 2-0, with goals from Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gigna. By the time Gigna scored, 86 minutes in, fans had already started leaving as news of the attacks filtered through the stadium. At the end of the match, fans were allowed to stay in the Stade de France, using the pitch as refuge.

French fan Frederic Lavergne told reporters, “We heard them, but we thought they were home-made devices or fireworks.” In a possibly controversial decision, French association football officials elected during half-time not to tell fans in the stadium what was happening outside in the city. Fédération Française de Football president Noel le Graet said at the Stade de France, “We didn’t want to spread panic in the crowd,” adding “The French Football Federation shares the pain of the bereaving families and their loved ones.”

The terror attacks that have ravaged Paris saw six attacks across the city, with an estimated total of 120 people killed. Many were killed at the 1,500 capacity concert hall Bataclan, where US-based band Eagles of Death Metal were playing. The event had been sold out in advance. Security police were on the scene within an hour and killed the four attackers; one eyewitness had earlier heard one of the gunmen saying, “”It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria”.”

The other sites that were attacked saw more killed, with restaurants such as La Belle Equipe on rue de Charonne, Le Carillion Bar and Le Petit Cambodge on rue Alibert among the locations that saw terror inflicted on the usually peaceful streets.

Back at the Stade de France, French President Francois Hollande was evacuated before the game with over, later giving a short speech at the Bataclan concert venue, where at least 80 died. He appeared visibly shaken by the attacks on his country, saying that the attacks were an “abomination” and the terrorists will be “confronted by a France that is determined, unified, and pulled together.” Earlier, he also declared a state of national emergency, as well as tightening border controls on a night of the worst violence France has seen since World War II.

The perpetrators of the attacks, Islamic State, have claimed responsibility and said that the attacks were a response to direct insults toward the prophet Muhammad and air-strikes by France on Islamic State territory, also saying that the attacks are the “start of a storm”.

The international response was just as horrified. US president Barack Obama said that it was an “an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”, while David Cameron tweeted that he was “shocked by events in France” and that the UK will “do whatever we can to help”.

On Saturday morning a banner was put up by French citizens on the Marianne symbol in the Place de la République. It reads “I am human.”

Bizarre Fury video doesn’t faze Klitschko

Tyson Fury has fired a warning to world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, showing his brute force by crushing a watermelon on his head. Fury, who faces the Ukrainian in Dusseldorf on November 28, appeared in a comical video posted on his Twitter.

The 27-year-old roars towards the camera before splitting the ‘funny sized’ fruit with a headbutt. Fury takes a bite out of the watermelon and captioned the video – “This is for u wlad @klitschko I’m coming for you!”

The undefeated Brit appears full of confidence despite the task at hand in Germany.

“It’s quite shocking the state of @Klitschko mind set,” Fury tweeted. I’ve never come across a weaker minded person in all my days, I’ll play with the champ.”

Klitschko seems unfazed by Fury’s antics, saying he believes Fury will be predictable in the ring.

“I’ve been checking his record and the opponents are not very impressive,” said Klitschko. “I’ve also been watching him a lot and although he is unpredictable in some ways, I’ve worked out all that he does and he will be predictable in the fight to me.

“He is unbeaten which gives a big ego but he is losing the ground under his feet.”

The multiple world heavyweight champion has his own warning for Fury: “Sometimes a fighter can be quiet but then be dangerous on the night – sometimes they talk a lot but then do nothing in the fight,” he said.

Fury recently made several bizarre and unfounded allegations about Klitschko in an interview with a British newspaper, expressing some controversial views.

“Goliath was a champion, a monster who had never been beaten, and then this young guy, David, came forward, a child who believed in God and did it,” said Fury.

“God gave him the power. What was right will always prevail over wrong. Good will always prevail over evil. I see that in me versus Klitschko.

“To be honest with you, I know Klitschko is a devil-worshipper. They are involved in bigger circles and stuff like that and they do magic tricks and whatever. You can go on YouTube and watch them playing with magic.”

Fury’s extraordinary outburst continued: “It ain’t going to happen. He can’t beat me now. Now I know what he is ó a devil-worshipper ó I know he has no chance of beating me. God will not let him defeat me, not at all. I am almost a thousand per cent certain that he cannot beat me.”

Klitschko was shocked by Fury’s behaviour: “He is bipolar. He has mental issues for sure. Some comments that come out of his mouth do not work well with me. I’m not commenting on some of them. I will answer those with my fists in the ring, the way I have done many times before.

“I have stopped being surprised by Tyson Fury. He is bizarre.”

De Loya taunts ‘boring’ Mayweather in farewell letter

Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has mocked Floyd Mayweather in a farewell letter that describes the unbeaten fighter as ‘boring’ and ‘afraid’. The letter from De La Hoya will appear in the December issue of Playboy magazine and heavily criticises Mayweather, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

“Dear Floyd,” the letter begins. “You did it. You made it to the 49ñ0 mark, a milestone that you like to say only the great Rocky Marciano reached but that was actually achieved by others, including my idol Julio CÈsar Ch·vez ñ but who’s counting? And now you’re retiring. Again.

“This time you say it’s for real. You’re serious about hanging up the gloves. On to bigger and better things. So I’m writing to you today to wish you a fond farewell.

“Truth be told, I’m not unhappy to see you retire. Neither are a lot of boxing fans. Scratch that. MOST boxing fans. Why? Because the fight game will be a better one without you in it.”

De La Hoya continues to ridicule Mayweather throughout the letter, calling him ‘boring’ before blasting his performance in his final bout – a 12-round decision against Andre Berto.

“How to describe it,” De La Hoya wrote. “A bust? A disaster? A snooze fest? An affair so one-sided that on one judge’s card Berto didn’t win a single round? Everyone in boxing knew Berto didn’t have a chance.

“I think more people watched Family Guy reruns that night than tuned in to that pay-per-view bout. But I didn’t mind shelling out $75 for the HD broadcast.

“In fact it’s been a great investment. When my kids have trouble falling asleep, I don’t have to read to them anymore. I just play them your Berto fight. They don’t make it past round three.”

De La Hoya, who considered a return to the ring earlier this year before deciding against it, goes on to accuse Mayweather of being ‘afraid of taking risks’, highlighting his failure to fight Manny Pacquiao until their May meeting in Las Vegas.

He added: “Another reason boxing is better off without you: you were afraid. Afraid of taking chances. Afraid of risk.

“A perfect example is your greatest ‘triumph,’ the long-awaited record-breaking fight between you and Manny Pacquiao. Nearly 4.5m buys! More than $400 million in revenue! Headlines worldwide! How can that be bad for boxing? Because you lied.

“You promised action and entertainment and a battle for the ages, and you delivered none of the above. The problem is, that’s precisely how you want it. You should have fought Pacquiao five years ago, not five months ago. That, however, would have been too dangerous. Too risky.”

De La Hoya went on to praise many of today’s top fighters, including Gennady Golovkin, Roman Gonzalez and Sergey Kovalev, along with rising stars Terence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko and Keith Thurman.

“You’re moving on to a new phase of life now, a second act – but I’m wondering what you’re going to do?” wrote De La Hoya.

“Maybe you’ll put your true skills to work and open a used-car dealership or run a circus. Or maybe you’ll wind up back on ‘Dancing With the Stars’. It’s a job that’s safe, pays well and lets you run around on stage. Something you’ve been doing for most of your career.”

MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo burns leg while celebrating title

New MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo burned his leg as he celebrated winning his third title at an airport near Palma, Majorca. Surrounded by excited, shouting fans, he revved up the replica Yamaha R1, but the radiator hose blew and scalded him.

Lorenzo had arrived back in Majorca to fanfare, with crowds lined up to welcome him back. The plan was for him to ride into the city centre with hundreds of other riders, but after the burn this didn’t happen. Lorenzo was taken to hospital for treatment, but later reappeared out of his overalls and in normal clothes, with his leg bandaged up. He continued his celebrations, but instead of riding in he was taken into Palma in a car, later going up on a balcony to show his trophy off.

Lorenzo’s season was hard fought, with team-mate and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi fighting him all the way, as well as fellow Spaniard and 2014 world champion Marc Marquez battling it out. After Marquez crashed into Rossi in Malaysia, Rossi was awarded three penalty points and ordered to start at the back of the grid at the final race in Valencia.

Lorenzo won this final race, as well as taking pole position and the fastest lap, giving him the championship with a margin of five points from Rossi, who finished fourth in Valencia. Lorenzo won seven of the 18 races this year, compared to Rossi’s four and Marquez’s five.

However, Rossi was more consistent than either of them, managing to finish on the podium 12 times over the course of the season, which enabled him to take the championship right down to the wire.

The 2016 MotoGP world championship starts in Qatar on March 20th. Key players will include world champion Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.

NBA: Curry hits a shot-of-the-season, Mavericks get payback on Jordan

Stephen Curry can hit pretty much anything and get it in the net, while the Mavericks can rest easy knowing their revenge on DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers was fruitful.

Stephen Curry has been on top form this year, apart from that blip against the Detroit Pistons on Monday. So far this year, he’s averaged .522 on Field Goals, better than any year previously, and .454 on triple pointers percentage, which is only .001 worse than his percentage in the 2011-12 season.

So, he’s doing pretty well then. Now, the Warriors were up against the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time this season. The Warriors won the game 100-84, extending their winning run either further, but neither of them were the talking points after the game. Stephen Curry was, once again, the focus of the post-game chat between fans and pundits alike.

His shot came in the third quarter, as the score lay at 62-58 to the Warriors. He intercepted a play from Grizzlies reserve JaMychal Green, then took it to the center court logo. Under pressure from the Grizzlies, he threw a ball that looked like it was destined for nowhere…until it went straight into the net for a three-pointer. Somehow.

The team are so used to this occurring now, then even have a hashtag for it:

Mavericks get payback on DeAndre Jordan, beat the Clippers

The Dallas Mavericks are a vengeful bunch, or so it seems. When they got the chance to take it to DeAndre Jordan, who went back on a four-year, $80 million contract free agent deal to move to the Mavericks in the summer, they took it with both hands open. While the Los Angeles Clippers (and Jordan) were in Dallas for the game, the Mavericks will be focusing less on Jordan’s betrayal and more on how well they played.

The game went right down to the wire, but ultimately the Mavericks took it 118-108. As late as 3 minutes to go, they were down 106-104, but managed to bring it back thanks to Dirk Nowitzki 3-pointer with just over a minute to go. This made Nowitzki the oldest player in NBA history to score 30 points in a single game.

Jordan was heckled and booed throughout the game, but was surprised by how little effort the Mavericks fans put into this, saying, “‘They’re obviously going to boo and heckle a little bit, but I thought it was going to be a lot worse.'” However, he didn’t play well, with just 9 points to his name.

All in all, a win for the Mavericks and a loss to rue for the Clippers.