Reverberations from the scenes of brutal violence on the soccer field last week
continued to be felt on Sunday, as the country’s leaders and police vowed to
stamp out the problem and even threatened to cancel the soccer season if they
did not succeed.
“We must stop the violence on the soccer pitch,” Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting,
adding that if there will be violence, there will not be any
Netanyahu spoke one day after all games were canceled, following
a brawl at a Second Division game between Bnei Lod and Hapoel Ramat Gan, which
resulted in the arrests of Bnei Lod’s manager and deputy manager.
not want to see kicking, and fisticuffs, and brawling, we want to see soccer,”
Netanyahu said, giving backing to the steps that Culture and Sport Minister
Limor Livnat said she would would take to stamp out the violence.
violence must be uprooted, he said, “to return the game to the Israelis, myself
included, who love it very much.”
Meanwhile, Police Insp.- Gen. Yohanan
Danino and Livnat agreed on a plan to prioritize violent offenses in soccer
games, which will include stricter punishment to create greater
Danino said police would immediately dedicate more resources
to soccer stadiums, take up a more stringent policy towards offenders and work
for closer cooperation with prosecutors and courts.
“The field has turned
into a battlefield, involving not just fans, but players, coaches and
professionals,” Livnat added. She accused the management of the Israel
Football Association of remaining silent on the crisis.
Education, Culture and Sports Committee will hold an emergency meeting during
the spring recess on Tuesday, to discuss soccerrelated violence and the Israel
Also on Sunday, police decided to press charges
against 11 Hapoel Tel Aviv fans for rioting at the end of a game last month in
Jaffa’s Bloomfield Stadium.
The fans threw objects at police and players,
and police have used video evidence to back up the charges. Police will seek
suspended sentences and restraining orders keeping the fans away from fields,
including obligating the fans to report to a police station before every game
involving their team.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.