Israel arrests suspected soccer arsonists

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Associated Press

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli police have arrested two fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team suspected of setting fire to the team's main offices.

The fire, which destroyed historic trophies and mementos, marked the height of a violent campaign by fans upset with the team for signing two Muslim players from Chechnya.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Tuesday that the suspects were members of the hardcore group of fans known as "La Familia."

The group is routinely abusive toward opposing players, taunting them with racist and anti-Arab chants. Their behavior has had the team docked points and forced it to play before empty stadiums.

The Feb. 8 arson attack followed a decision by team management to break from tradition and sign Muslim players.

Beitar is one of Israel's flagship football franchises.

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