Tel Aviv soccer team fined over fans’ use of ‘Holocaust’ taunts

Governing body orders Hapoel Tel Aviv to pay NIS 25,000 for audience members’ use of offensive term against rival team

Hapoel Tel Aviv players (in red) and Maccabi Tel Aviv players in a scuffle during a game on January 14, 2019 (screenshot)
Hapoel Tel Aviv players (in red) and Maccabi Tel Aviv players in a scuffle during a game on January 14, 2019 (screenshot)

Israeli soccer’s governing body issued a fine against premier league side Hapoel Tel Aviv on Thursday over its supporters’ “Holocaust” taunts at bitter rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The Israel Football Association said Hapoel was fined NIS 25,000 ($6,770) for disorderly behavior during a championship match on January 14, when Hapoel fans hurled bottles after a scuffle on the pitch between players from the two teams.

The FA said Hapoel supporters twice chanted “Holocaust for Maccabi,” a reference to the annihilation of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and a taboo use of the term in the Jewish state.

The association rejected the Hapoel lawyer’s argument that the fans used the Hebrew word “Shoah” in its more general sense of “destruction” without meaning to link it to the genocide of Jews.

Hapoel’s management issued a statement denouncing its supporters’ behavior and “all forms of violence,” without mentioning the offending chants.

Maccabi has won 21 national championships and is currently top of the league table. Hapoel, straggling in 12th place out of 14 teams, has won 13 championships.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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