Beitar owner calls off Barca friendly over refusal to play in Jerusalem

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July 16 – The owner of  Beitar Jerusalem, Israel’s most extremist top-flight club and the only one never to have signed an Arab player, has called off a friendly with Barcelona over its refusal to hold the game in the contested city.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and considers the entire city its territory.

Barcelona said the game, which had been set to take place in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on August 4, must be played elsewhere, prompting Moshe Hogeg, a bitcoin millionaire who took over the club in 2018 seeking to change the image of Beitar and  combat racism, to call off the prestige occasion.

“With great sorrow I had to cancel the game against Barcelona,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “After I received the contract to sign which revealed the unequivocal demand that the game not take place in the capital, Jerusalem, and a few other demands that I did not like, I slept with a heavy heart, thought a lot and decided that first of all I am a proud Jew and Israeli.”

“A game against Beitar Jerusalem should take place in Jerusalem. I’m not angry with Barcelona; they are not a political club and have no interest in taking part in our conflict here. Our relationship will continue to be good. This is a very difficult decision but after consulting with the mayor, I believe it is the right one.”

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