UAE royal buys 50 percent stake in Beitar Jerusalem Football Club

USA & World

UAE royal buys 50 percent stake in Beitar Jerusalem Football Club

A member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family has purchased a 50 percent stake in Israeli Premier League football team Beitar Jerusalem, the club announced on Monday.

The purchase comes amid a flurry of business deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates following their move to establish formal diplomatic relations in September.

In an announcement posted on their website, Beitar said Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Nahyan’s purchase also included a commitment to invest more than 300 million shekels ($92.18m) in the club over the next 10 years.

Beitar Jerusalem is a bastion of Israel’s political right-wing and a group of supporters known as “La Familia” has been openly abusive towards Israel’s Arab minority.

Beitar’s announcement on Monday quoted Sheikh Hamad as saying: “I am thrilled to be a partner in such a glorious club that I have heard so much of and in such a great city, the capital of Israel and one of the holiest cities in the world.”

The reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is significant given the city’s status as one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, a position that is shared by the United States but not recognised by most countries. Palestinians seek the city’s east, which Israel captured in a 1967 war, as the capital of a future state.

Following its deal to establish ties with Israel, the UAE said it was committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Beitar said it would form a new board of directors following Sheikh Hamad’s purchase and that his son would join the body to represent him.

In October, the UAE and Israeli football leagues signed a memorandum of understanding to bolster cooperation.