A shirtless fan takes a swing at Maccabi Tel Aviv's Eran Zahavi.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
The Israel Football Association’s disciplinary court completely rejected the arguments of Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday, punishing both clubs severely for the abandonment of last week’s derby.
The three-man panel, headed by judge Israel Shimoni, accepted in full the IFA prosecutor’s request in Monday’s hearing, deducting two points from both teams, declaring the result of the match as a 0-0 draw from which neither club will receive a point and closing the stands from which the fans burst onto the pitch for four matches.
Following the point deductions, Maccabi dropped one place to third and is now four points back of league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona ahead of the showdown between the teams in two weeks.
Hapoel fell to fifth place, a further five points back.
The two clubs, who are set to appeal Tuesday’s verdict, surprisingly displayed a united front in court on Monday, claiming that they shouldn’t be punished for the transgressions of the fans. However, judge Shimoni questioned that assertion and prosecutor Nir Reshef said the teams should receive a severe punishment to help prevent similar occurrences in the future. “How can we not hold the teams responsible?” asked Reshef. “If we don’t do that it will become the Wild West.”
“After carefully reading the ruling the club thinks it is unreasonable, unfair and extreme. These facts will help us in our appeal,” read a Hapoel statement.
“This was the first time that Maccabi and Hapoel, who are the biggest rivals on the field, cooperated off it. We wanted to send out a message that you need to think outside the box regarding the way you treat violent fans and it is sad the court didn’t help the clubs bring about a change.”
During the 33rd minute of the derby at Bloomfield Stadium, a Hapoel fan jumped out of the stands and ran onto the pitch to confront Maccabi star Eran Zahavi. The two exchanged blows for over 10 seconds until the intruder was finally dragged off the field by the stewards.
Zahavi was sent off for his part in the brawl and it took over 10 minutes until the match could be resumed. However, it was stopped for good only several seconds later after Maccabi fans also burst onto the field.
“Supposedly, the match was stopped because Maccabi fans entered the field of play two minutes after the game was resumed following the attack on Eran Zahavi by a Hapoel fan,” the disciplinary court wrote in its verdict. “However, we feel that the abandonment of the match was a result of a string of events which could have each separately brought the match to a halt.”