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Top Israeli soccer club Beitar Jerusalem cancels its sale to UAE royal

Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg (C) with UAE member of the royal family Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan (R) (Beitar Jerusalem)
Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg (C) with UAE member of the royal family Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan (R) (Beitar Jerusalem)

A major deal to sell 50% of one of Israel’s most famous soccer clubs to an Emirati businessman has been canceled, Hebrew media reports, citing an announcement by an Israeli committee that says Beitar Jerusalem has officially asked to withdraw its request to approve the sale.

Beitar’s owner Moshe Hogeg has faced backlash from extreme factions of the club’s notoriously anti-Arab fanbase after he sold a 50 percent stake in the club to Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. Al Nahyan pledged to pump $90 million into the team in the coming decade.

But Israel’s soccer association conducted an investigation that found a potential “significant gap” between his declared capital and what he owns in reality, business news website The Marker reported last month.

The investigation, commissioned by the Israel Football Association and conducted by the Megiddo financial investigations company, was said to conclude that Al Nahyan owns dozens of inactive firms and is allegedly connected with businessmen involved in fraud and money laundering.

The main reported finding was that out of Al Nahyan’s stated wealth of $1.6 billion, $1.5 billion is non-tradable bonds belonging to the Venezuelan government, which economists estimate to be useless due to the South American country’s grave economic crisis.

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