IFL logo 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The new season of the Israel Football League got underway on Thursday evening in
Jerusalem, but what was supposed to be a festive occasion was marred by
controversy after one of the night’s games had to be postponed.
Travel Leaders’ Beersheba Black Swarm beat the ISD Jerusalem Kings 30-12 in the
league opener at Kraft Stadium, the second game of the night between the Big
Blue Jerusalem Lions and the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers never took place following a
hearing at the Petah Tikva District Court earlier that day.
told by the league that he could not join the Pioneers as his request to leave
the Hatikva Hammers was made after the agreedupon October 1 deadline and he did
not get a release from his former team, Lewis Ducker filed a lawsuit against the
IFL and the Hammers, claiming that he was unjustly being prevented from playing
on a team of his choosing.
Judge Hila Gerstel accepted Ducker’s claims
and said that should the league refuse to allow him to play she would shut it
down until the matter was determined or she would rule that Duker could play for
the Pioneers until she made her final decision, possibly also making the IFL
liable for all of the court costs.
“Faced with the options of having to
postpone our season while this made its way through the court system, or having
to bite the bullet and concede that we were railroaded out of viable options
that would ultimately benefit the league, we decided to heed the judge’s
‘friendly advice’ and mitigate our damages,” IFL Commissioner Uriel Sturm wrote
in a letter posted on the league’s Facebook page.
However, despite the
court’s ruling, many of the teams apart from the Pioneers made it clear that
they stand by the league’s stance and threatened that they would not play the
Pioneers if Ducker was allowed to move against the unofficial regulations the
teams had agreed upon.
As things currently stand, there is still no
solution to the rift in what is an otherwise sporting amateur league.
IFL will be hoping to finally end the scandal when it holds a meeting with all
team representatives on Tuesday.
In other opening-weekend action, the
Nemo Family Haifa Underdogs road a resurgent offense to a 52-0 blanking of the
expansion Arnold’s Northern Stars way up north in Shelomi.
night, in a rematch of last season’s Israel Bowl championship, the Talpion
Judean Rebels and Bourbon Street Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres met in a high-octane
showdown in Neve Golan.
In a back-and-forth battle, the Sabres were up by
just a touchdown, 44-37, with the Rebels furiously driving down the field for
the tying – and possibly winning – score, when the stadium lights went out with
less than 20 seconds remaining.
In an mutual decision on field, both
teams and the league agreed to postpone the final few ticks of the contest until
December 29, when the Sabres travel to Jerusalem to face the Lions.
the unfinished result left neither team satisfied, the upside is it extended the
taut drama of the intense rivalry for a few weeks longer.