Fans of Maccabi Tel Aviv were kicked out of a Tel Aviv stadium during a match Thursday with Nicosia’s Omonia V.C. after they disrupted the game several times by throwing flares and items onto the court.
Footage showed Maccabi supporters throwing flares during the first round of the match, leading to a pause in the game and drawing a warning from referees that the team would bear a technical loss if the rowdy behavior persisted.
Despite their team winning the first round, the fans ignored warnings and threw items onto the court during the second round prompting referees to stop the game for about an hour, while approximately 1,000 fans were removed.
Maccabi beat Omonia 3-0, coming one step closer to the semi-finals of the competition.
The behavior drew disapproval from Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar, who was in attendance at the match. Taking a microphone and addressing one of the crowd members, Zohar said: “I saw you, because of you there will be a technical loss.”
“Violent fans will not be allowed on the field, full stop!” Zohar tweeted later on Thursday. “The time has come to stop violent acts at sporting events,” he added.
Maccabi Tel Aviv chair Doron Shitrock issued a condemnation of the violence on the field, stating that “violence harms sport, fans, and of course, the team.”
“We extend our gratitude to the culture and sports minister who honored us with his presence, for addressing the audience when the game was paused and asking fans to stop their unsportsmanlike behavior,” he said, also thanking the club’s management for their handling of the affair.
Sports-related violence is not uncommon in Israel and fans from opposing teams have been reported to clash following games, with the fights occasionally veering into violence with a racial or nationalist tone.