21 soccer fans arrested after Beersheba brawl
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21 soccer fans arrested after Beersheba brawl

Tensions run high as defending league champions host runners-up Maccabi Tel Aviv, in one of most anticipated games of season

Hapoel Beersheba F.C. soccer players celebrate after winning the Israeli League championship for the first time in 40 years in Beersheba on May 21, 2016. (Danny Meron/Flash90)
Hapoel Beersheba F.C. soccer players celebrate after winning the Israeli League championship for the first time in 40 years in Beersheba on May 21, 2016. (Danny Meron/Flash90)

At least 21 soccer fans were detained Sunday after a brawl ahead of a match between national league winners Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Tel Aviv, Channel 2 reported.

The defending champions were hosting runners-up Tel Aviv in one of the most anticipated games of the season. Hapoel won the League Championship in May, for the first time in 40 years.

Police said they were adopting a zero tolerance policy to fan violence, Channel 2 television reported.

Four other fans were arrested for trying to sneak into the stadium without tickets.

In July, dozens of people were arrested in nationwide raids as part of a crackdown on violence in Israeli sports. All of the 56 detainees were linked to the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, including 47 members of “La Familia,” an ultra-nationalist group of the club’s fans.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at the time hailed the “complex operation” by the Israel Police, which he said represented the “height of efforts to combat violence in sports.”

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