Israeli Premier League club Beitar Jerusalem unveiled two Chechen Muslim players on Wednesday, in defiance of calls by some of their fans who have protested against the planned signing of Muslim players.
A racist element among Beitar's fans caused an uproar in the Jewish state on Saturday when they held up banners during a Premier League match to protest owner Arkady Gaydamak's plans to sign the two players.
Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev of Russian premier league side, Terek Grozny, were introduced at a news conference but barely spoke. They are due to train for the first time on Thursday.
Sadayev and Kadiyev seemed unfazed by the fans' behavior as they donned their yellow and black Beitar jerseys.
"I'm happy I came here," said Sadayev, a 23-year-old forward signed from FC Terek Grozny. "And I will please the fans with my game." Kadiyev, a 19-year-old defender from the same team, said he was "not afraid" of playing in front of Beitar fans.
"I know that there will be a difficult start, but I believe that this club is setting out on a new path and will change its image," coach Eli Cohen said.
Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who participated in the news conference said that "violence and racism would not be tolerated."
One large banner on Saturday read "Beitar will always remain pure" and another sign criticized Gaydamak's plan to recruit the two players.
The club was disciplined on Tuesday because of the incident and was ordered to close the Teddy Kollek Stadium's 7,000-seat eastern grandstand, where hard core supporters sit, for five matches. They also received a 50,000 shekel ($13,400) fine.
The Israel Football Association (IFA) court said the punishment was relatively mild because Beitar had begun to make an effort to stamp out racist behavior among its fans.
Beitar are a bastion of Israel's political Right and the only leading team in the country never to have signed an Arab player because of fan pressure.
They also have one of the worst disciplinary records in Israel's Premier League. Since 2005, Beitar have faced more than 20 hearings and have received various punishments, including point deductions, fines and matches with no fans.
Arab citizens make up some 20 percent of Israel's population of almost eight million. Arab players feature prominently in all other clubs and have long been included in Israel's national team.
Beitar fans have been punished in the past for displays similar to Saturday's and police beefed up security at a match on Tuesday, when Beitar played a team from the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. Hundreds of police, some on horseback, patrolled inside and outside the stadium and said they would arrest anyone displaying racist behavior. No major incidents were reported, and 12 fans from both sides were banned from the game. Beitar won the game 5-0.