JTA — A member of the United Arab Emirates’ royal family has formally announced his interest in buying half of the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan on Friday sent representatives of the team’s Israeli owner, Moshe Hogeg, a letter of interest pending appraisals by Al Nahyan’s team, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned.
If completed, the deal will be one of the first major transactions signed between Israeli and Emirati parties since the UAE and Israel normalized diplomatic relations.
According to a report from October by the One sports news site in Israel about talks between Hogeg and unnamed Emirati buyers, Hogeg is asking for more than $100 million in sale money and subsequent investments.
The deal, where Hogeg is being represented by the Jewish Emirati businessman Naum Koen of the NY Koen Group, would also be a milestone in the history of the Israeli soccer club, which is associated with the Israeli hard right and which Hogeg has been trying to rehabilitate by addressing the notorious racism problem of some of its fans.
Hogeg has signed on several Arab and Muslim players since he bought the club, moves that have alienated members of the far-right supporters club known as La Familia.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion on Friday spoke with Hogeg and Al Nahyan, telling them in a conference call that it was “a great moment” for the city because of the formal launching of talks on the purchase of its best-known soccer team.