Rival Tel Aviv soccer teams decry violent fans, warn that lives are in danger
search

Rival Tel Aviv soccer teams decry violent fans, warn that lives are in danger

Hapoel coach says incident in which fan attacked player on pitch could have ended in murder; more violence outside courthouse

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Martin Bain (2nd from left), CEO of Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on November 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Martin Bain (2nd from left), CEO of Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv on November 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Officials at the two Tel Aviv soccer teams at the center of a violent clash between fans, players, and security personnel that brought Monday’s game to an abrupt end condemned the incident on Tuesday and said the fans involved were a minority who do not represent their supporters.

The Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer team held a press conference attended by Chairman Martin Bain, head coach Pako Ayestaran and captain Sheran Yeini.

Bain stressed that it is the teams themselves that are hurt by the unruly behavior of spectators.

“It is very disappointing that teams are suffering from a minority that is ruining things for the majority,” he said. “Why should the club suffer this? Why should someone with an act of lunacy cause us to suffer and to be punished?”

During Monday night’s crosstown rivalry game — or derby in soccer parlance — Hapoel Tel Aviv fan Elroy Yadi ran on to the pitch and began hitting Maccabi Tel Aviv player Eran Zahavi, who tried to defend himself against the assault until security personnel intervened.

Bain rejected the claim that Zahavi had was also responsible for the clash because he had provoked the crowds of opposing fans.

“Eran [Zahavi] did nothing different from what he has done in the past,” Bain said.

He also distanced the club from those of its own supporters who invaded the pitch after Zahavi was sent off for hitting the fan who had attacked him.

“Those fans do not represent Maccabi Tel Aviv, they are the minority,” he said. “The police has security footage and they will have the chance to explain their actions.”

“When a player is attacked on the pitch that crosses a red line,” Yeini said and added that he stands behind Zahavi in defending himself during the clash.

“We support him in how he acted,” Yeini said. “He didn’t attack the fan.”

Ayestaran highlighted that the initial assault by a fan on a player was the main cause for alarm.

“That fact that a fan jumped on to the pitch and that a player was attacked by a fan, that is the central point in the story,” he said. “I think we need actions not words, to make sure that the league continues without disturbances.”

During a similar press event, Hapoel Tel Aviv manager Eyal Berkovich also stressed the seriousness of the attack on Zahavi that was fueled by soccer fans’ unacceptable hatred for opposing teams. Berkovich warned that unless new security precautions were taken at games, “this will end in murder.”

“It wouldn’t have taken much for Zahavi to be murdered yesterday,” Berkovich said. “It is sad that this had to happen during the derby. I don’t remember anything like this and it mustn’t go unattended.”

He suggested that the entire soccer league take a break until ways to reduce the violence and animosity between fans can be found.

The soccer fan who burst into the field during the Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv game November 3 and attacked a player is brought to the Tel Aviv District Court on November 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
The soccer fan who burst into the field during the Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv game November 3 and attacked a player is brought to the Tel Aviv District Court on November 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

Yadi, the fan who attacked Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Zahavi sparking off the pitch invasion, was remanded for three days by a Tel Aviv Magistrates Court as another altercation between fans of the rival teams broke out, this time outside the courthouse. Small groups of supporters attacked and scuffled with each other outside the courthouse.

Hapoel Tel Aviv’s management announced that it had permanently banned Yadi and called on police to prosecute him, Israel Radio reported.

Another soccer official alleged that the same fan had frequently followed him to his home and made threats against him and his daughter.

Twelve people were arrested following the on-field fracas, including Yadi and the son of Hadash MK Dov Khenin. Khenin spoke out against the violence at the Tel Aviv soccer game, saying that “as a soccer fan for many years it’s important to me that there be tolerance on the pitch.”

“I reject outright any use of violence in Israeli sports,” he said.

A shirtless fan attacks Maccabi Tel Aviv player Eran Zehavi, November 3, 2014 (Photo credit: Channel 2 News)
A shirtless fan attacks Maccabi Tel Aviv player Eran Zehavi, November 3, 2014 (Photo credit: Channel 2 News)

The Monday night scuffle began in the 33rd minute of the match between Hapoel and Maccabi, as the shirtless Hapoel fan Yadi ran onto the field and began hitting and kicking Zahavi.

Zahavi defended himself and the two men exchanged blows for several moments before security dragged the fan away.

The referee, acting according to the rules of the game that prohibit players from being involved in violence on the pitch, then issued Zahavi a red card, sparking a further outburst from players and fans.

As Zahavi argued the call, a number of fans ran onto the field and began exchanging blows, prompting officials to call off the game.

read more:
comments