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Israeli soccer team honors alleged spy for Hezbollah

In an interview with Al-Monitor, the spokesperson of Israel's Bnei Sakhnin soccer team explains that it honored former Knesset member Azmi Bishara because he facilitated Qatari financial support.
Beitar Jerusalem's new player Dzhabrail Kadiyev (R) plays during a match against Bnei Sakhnin as part of the Israeli Premier League, at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem February 10, 2013. There was heightened security at Sunday's match following last week's arraignment of four fans in connection with racist incitement against the team's recruitment of Muslim players. REUTERS/Nir Elias (JERUSALEM - Tags: SPORT SOCCER POLITICS) - RTR3DLJ2
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The Bnei Sakhnin soccer team rose to the Israeli National League in 2003 for the first time in its history, and in its very first season won the State Cup. Bnei Sakhnin games are usually full of tension. Its players, most of whom are Arab Israelis, are frequently subjected to nationalistic and racist slurs from the stands. This harassment peaks in charged and stormy games against the Beitar Jerusalem team.

Despite the weekly barrage of invectives, the team’s management has cultivated a positive public image for Bnei Sakhnin as a bridge between Jews and Arabs, a symbol of coexistence. It was not easy. The current chairman of the team, Mohammed Abu Yunes, has admitted that it is hard to bring Jewish players to Bnei Sakhnin. In fact, there are only two Jewish players on the team for the current 2014-2015 season.

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