Beitar Jerusalem: Fans of Israeli club want to ‘change name’ of new signing Ali Mohamed
Supporters of the club posted on social media that they wanted to give Mohamed ‘another name’
The Israeli side recently signed the 23-year-old Nigerian player from Maccabi Netanya for 1.7million euros. He has agreed a three year deal.
However, the Jerusalem Post has reported that the club’s fanatical supporters, known as La Familia, quickly posted on social media that they would give him another name.
Beitar are the only club in the Israeli Premier League never to sign an Arab player and although they have signed Muslim players in the past, they have not always been well received.
The club has historically had close ties to an aggressive strand of the Zionist movement and is often associated with the right wing Likud party.
And last year the club made headlines around the world when they welcomed US President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognise the city as the capital of Israel by briefly renaming themselves after him.
Mohamed is, in fact, a Christian, but that did not stop the club’s supporters from attempting to rename him.
The social media post was however quickly deleted following criticism from other club members as well as the club’s owner, Moshe Hogeg.
He said: “This post and the things written in it did not add any respect to anyone. Ali Mohamed will be a Beitar Jerusalem player and the only thing that interests us is what this signing can do for the team and the club.”
La Familia later backtracked from their initial statement by claiming they were instead attempting to find Mohamed a nickname.
“He’s excellent player and we’re glad he’s here,” they said in a statement.
“There are a lot of soccer players who give them a nickname, Lionel Messi is called ‘the Flea’, Mohamed Salah is called ‘Mo’.
“We have nicknames for players and Ali Mohamed will also get one.”
*This article has been amended, removing a reference to the club being a "symbol of Israeli football culture" (20 June, 2019)