The beautiful, violent game
Hebrew Media Review

The beautiful, violent game

Thuggery again mars Israeli football, and an outpost evacuation stirs election fears

Illustrative photo of soccer players (photo credit:  Kobi Gideon/Flash90 )
Illustrative photo of soccer players (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90 )

On the heels of an already violent season, Friday night’s bench clearing brawl between Hapoel Ramat Gan and Bnei Lod was a new low in an ugly soccer season, and it produced front-page news in all of Sunday’s major newspapers.

“Football is dead, long live violence,” proclaimed Maariv’s headline, with an accompanying picture of fists being thrown. The article on page four describes how the brawl began, when a Bnei Lod player revealed that under his jersey he wore a shirt that mocked Hapoel Ramat Gan. By the end of the fight, 22 players and coaches were arrested by police, with police stating they intend to prosecute those arrested. In a sidebar, Maariv includes a listing of the various violent incidents in Israeli soccer this past season.

Israel Hayom dedicates three pages of coverage to the brawl. Including an opinion piece by Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat. Livnat pledges to work with two government committees and police in order to “restore the public trust in Israel’s favorite game.”

Haaretz tackles the brawl with an opinion piece by Shlomi Barzel in which he states, “It’s not the football, it’s the society.” He goes on to explain that unless violence is eradicated from the football culture, this problem will not be solved. He points to the British dealing with their hooligans and the NBA dealing with drugs and other issues in the 1980s. “Football in Israel is not dead, but it is very sick,” he writes, and the solution for Israel’s football crisis must be a determined sooner rather than later.

In Yedioth Ahronoth, Amnon Avermovich writes of the brawl: “Much to our dismay, soccer and violence go together.” There are several options, for healing the malaise in the sport, he says, but what would work the best would be just to start again from scratch.

Evacuation fault lines

Haaretz’s top story is not the soccer brawl but an expected brawl that seems to be brewing over the upcoming evacuation of part of the Beit El settlement. The small Ulpana neighborhood is expected to be evacuated next week, but over the weekend several Likud ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, spoke out against the evacuation and threatened that the coalition could break apart if it went ahead.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to focus on Egypt and not just Iran. Maariv’s page two article quotes Lieberman saying, “The Egyptian subject is more disturbing than the Iranian issue.” Lieberman points to the tough economic situation and political uncertainty in Egypt as signs that things will not improve in the Sinai, and this worries him more than the Iranian issue.

Israel Hayom reports that Egypt and Israel have traded barbs over the recent Sinai warnings issued by Israeli security services. The counter-terrorism bureau warned over the weekend that there were severe threats of attacks on Israelis travelling in the Sinai and recommended that all Israeli tourists should leave the peninsula immediately. The Egyptians took offense and the governor of Sinai stated, “We have absolutely no information that tourists are leaving the Sinai because of security threats.” The governor went on to accuse Israel of trying to deliberately hurt the Egyptian tourism industry.

Yedioth Ahronoth also included military news on its front page with a quote from IDF Chief Benny Gantz as its headline, “The IDF is ready to act against Iran the moment it is necessary.” Inside is a short excerpt from a longer interview to be published on Independence Day (Thursday) in which Gantz makes a lot of statements about the power of the IDF, including, “The IDF is active all the time, in many places all around the world.”

Law and order

Haaretz reports on page five that the President of the Supreme Court, Asher Grunis, is expected to meet with Knesset Speaker Rueven Rivlin today to discuss the legislation that would allow the Knesset to overrule the Supreme Court. The proposed law would allow the Knesset to overrule any decision by the Supreme Court with a vote of 65 Knesset members (out of 120). Grunis has expressed concern at the strong wording of the law, which is expected to be introduced in the next Knesset session.

Yedioth Ahronoth reports on a proposed bill that would allow victims of terror attacks to receive their benefits from tax money intended for the Palestinian Authority. The article (titled, “Price Tag”) states that the proposed law has some legal obstacles to overcome, mainly that the Palestinian Authority is not a legal body and cannot be held responsible for attacks by terror groups. The law’s proposer Zevulun Orlev, from the Jewish Home party, stated the law’s intent: “If Palestinians know that they have to pay for the terror damage, maybe this will make the terror leaders think twice about the heavy price they will pay.” The Knesset is expected to discuss the law in the summer session.

Israel Hayom follows up on last Wednesday’s tragedy at Mount Herzl with an update on the ongoing investigation into those responsible for the collapse of the lighting structure that killed an IDF officer during rehearsals for this week’s Independence Day ceremony. Investigators suspect that the negligence that occurred at Mount Herzl may have occurred at other projects with which the company has been involved. Police state there was no proper documentation about the work involved: “Nothing was written, everything was done verbally — agreements, understandings and explanations.” The remand for the four suspects involved has been extended until Monday.

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