By Mara Vigevani
“Forever Pure,” an Israeli documentary about the controversial Beitar Jerusalem’s hardcore fan club, known as La Familia, won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Politics & Government Documentary category on Monday night, Oct. 1.
The News & Documentary Emmy Awards were presented on Monday at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.
In her documentary, Director Maya Zinshtein portrays the 2012-2013 season of Beitar, during which time the team’s Russian-Israeli oligarch owner Arcadi Gaydamak signed two Muslim players from Chechnya, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, to play for Beitar.
Gaydamak’s decision divided the fans, some of whom did not like having Muslim athletes on their team. Unlike other Israeli soccer clubs, Beitar had never employed a non-Jewish player.
La Familia’s reaction to the new players demoralized the team, leading to a terrible season, in which the team sometimes played to near-empty stadiums. Gaydemak was forced to hire bodyguards to protect the Muslim players who eventually were kicked off the team.
The title of the documentary, Forever Pure, refers to a banner held up by La Familia meaning free of non-Jews, racially pure.
“Forever Pure tells a much broader story than that of Beitar,” Maya Zinshtein, the film’s director told TPS from Zurich, where she is a judge at the Zurich International Film Festival.
“It tells how racism of a small group of people can break down a whole society. It is a good example of how extremists can take the control of the majority. It is a very present-day movie for the Israeli society.”
Beitar, which was later sold to Eli Tabib and then to entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, has been trying to address the issue of its racist fan club. In August, Hogeg declared that religion would no longer be a criterion for signing players.