Betar charged by IFA over fan trouble

Jerusalem to be punished at tribunal on Thursday for Sunday's pitch invasion.

April 15, 2008 04:04
3 minute read.

Betar Jerusalem will face an Israel Football Association tribunal on Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. after the team's supporters stormed the field at Teddy Stadium during Sunday's league game against Maccabi Herzliya forcing the match to be abandoned. The IFA announced on Monday that it has charged the team from the capital for its fans unruliness and the pitch invasion. The hearing will take place a day after Jerusalem plays Maccabi Netanya in the State Cup semifinals at National Stadium in Ramat Gan where the IFA offices are housed. Thousands of Betar fans flooded the field of play four minutes before the end of Sunday's match, leaving referee Alon Yeffet with no option but to halt proceedings. Jerusalem was leading 1-0 at the time the game was stopped, but the IFA's prosecution said Monday that it will be seeking a technical loss as punishment for Betar. A day after the events Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak and the team's management were still finding it difficult to come to terms with their supporters' reckless behavior. A win for Betar would have left the team needing just a single point in its final five matches of the season to clinch a second straight championship. All the championship celebrations will, however, have to be put on hold until after Thursday's hearing. "We have nothing to celebrate, we're losers," Gaydamak told Army radio on Monday. "I don't know how to rid of these fans. They're completely irresponsible. Our players and management make a big effort and these fans ruin everything. I have no respect for them." Gaydamak pulled no punches, adding: "These fans are bastards and fools. As far as I'm concerned [Betar coach] Itzhak Schum is a champion, [club chairman] Eli Arazi is a champion, the players are champions, but Betar is not a champion." Betar has been convicted no less than 23 times by an IFA tribunal since Gaydamak purchased the club two-and-a-half years ago, a figure which will surely be taken into consideration on Thursday when the team will be handed its punishment. Jerusalem can expect to receive anything from a fine and being forced to play several home matches in front of empty stands to a deduction of points. The club was given a suspended sentence for a similar offense last season and, should the tribunal choose to activate it, the champion will be deducted two points and will play four home matches at an empty Teddy Stadium. The IFA's tribunal will also need to take into account the implications its decision might have on the relegation battle. Herzliya is currently just two points above Ashdod SC and the relegation zone and will receive a significant and unexpected boost should the tribunal give Betar a technical loss and three points to Herzliya. "I won't even hear of replaying the match. I demand a technical loss," Herzliya owner Ariel Shayman said. "If the tribunal decides we need to replay the match we will appeal. My only concern is Maccabi Herzliya and I want the club to stay in the Premier League." Bnei Yehuda is just three points from Herzliya and safety after winning four straight matches. Its CEO Moshe Damayo is adamant Herzliya shouldn't benefit from Sunday's events and said he believes the match should be continued from where it was stopped. "I hope Betar gets punished the way it deserves to be, but the verdict mustn't hurt six other teams as well. As far as I'm concerned the IFA can deduct points from Betar, but it can't hand them a technical loss or order the replay of the match," Demayo said. "A team shouldn't be allowed to take advantage of what happened. We will not allow the identity of the relegated teams to be determined in a tribunal."

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