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One of Israel's Top Soccer Teams Wants to Rename Itself After Trump

Beitar Jerusalem's fans are notorious for their "extreme" right-wing nationalism and anti-Arab chants.
May 14, 2018, 6:41pm
Photo of Beitar by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images; photo of Trump by DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump has spent decades slapping his name on as many tall buildings and pieces of overpriced merch as possible, somehow managing to parlay his celebrity status—combined with a healthy dash of anti-immigration rhetoric—into a presidency. Now, thanks to one of his biggest foreign policy decisions, Trump's name may soon appear on the shirt of a leading Israel soccer team—known for a fanbase allegedly made up of "extreme" nationalists.

On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem—one of the biggest clubs in the Israeli Premier League—revealed on Facebook it wants to change its name to "Beitar Trump Jerusalem" in the president's honor. Owner Eli Tabib and executive manager Eli Ohana decided to attach Trump's brand to their team because of his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, The Times of Israel reports.

“President Trump has shown courage, and true love of the Israeli people and their capital," Beitar Jerusalem's statement read. "The football club Beitar Jerusalem, one of the most prominent symbols of the city, are happy to honor the President for his love and support with a gesture of our own.”

The team's announcement came a day before the US officially moved its embassy to Jerusalem—coinciding with a protest where dozens of Palestinians were killed.

It's worth noting that Beitar has been associated with right-wing, anti-Arab nationalism for years. Beitar Jerusalem remains the only club in its league never to have featured an Arab squad member, and the fan base is notorious for its anti-Arab chants. Earlier this year, some supporters were heard singing “I hate all Arabs” and “burn down your village” during a game against an Arab-Israeli team, the Times of Israel reports.

Beitar Jerusalem won't be able to slap Trump's name on its jerseys overnight—according to the Jerusalem Post, the club still needs to OK its name change with the Israel Football Association, and deal with the fact that "Trump" is trademarked in Israel. But given just how much Trump seems to enjoy seeing his surname plastered on pretty much anything, that last hangup shouldn't be too big of a problem.

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