Arab soccer fans boo during opening gesture in honor of Peres

During a match between two football clubs in the northern Arab town of Illut, Maccabi Ahi Nazareth FC and Hapoel Nazareth Illit FC on Friday, the players and stadium attempted to join together in a moment of silence and one minute of clapping in honor of the departed former president Shimon Peres. The gesture, however, was interrupted by the whistles and jeering heard from several Arab fans in the stadium. The players themselves continued clapping throughout it.

Following Peres’s death on Wednesday, the Israeli Professional Football League announced that all the games in the top two leagues will open with a minute of clapping in honor of the recently deceased former president. While this went over well in other matches, the match in Ilut opened on a different note.

Ahmed Hilo, Arab who holds the sports portfolio in the Nazareth Municipality, responded to the incident, “Most of the crowd and management stood and respected the minute of silence; those (that didn’t) where some kids who booed and behaved like that, so they don’t need to be addressed. Everybody has their own political opinion, and you can’t compel anyone to a particular path.”

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The league and the administration expressed their disapproval with the behavior of those who booed, as did Ahi Nazareth Coach Nissan Yehezkel. The latter added that, while he could not involved in politics, “it hurt me.”

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