Following a spate of violent incidents on and off the soccer field in recent weeks, police in central Israel announced a new policy on Sunday in which soccer players involved in physical confrontations will be detained on the spot and taken to a police station for questioning.

The announcement came after a soccer player from Hapoel Haifa was headbutted and kicked by staff from the Maccabi Petah Tikva team in a post-game flareup, resulting in a loss of consciousness for the player, and after fans from Hapoel Tel Aviv hurled dangerous objects onto the field during and after a game.

Lt.-Cmdr. Shimon Shomroni, head of the Sharon police sub-district, sent an order to police at games to “detain, in real time, any player who acts violently in a way that is not linked to the sporting competition.”

According to the policy, as soon as as a referee brandishes a card against a player for assaulting another player in a manner not linked to the game, the player will “be detained on the spot and taken to a police station for questioning. A criminal case will be opened against him, as the law stipulates,” Shomroni said.

The police commander said video cameras and police will closely monitor events on the field and the conduct of players, as well as fans.

“We will exhibit zero tolerance against those who break the law, as well as against those who shout racist chants,” Shomroni said. “We will not allow sporting events to become lawless events.”

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