Beitar Jerusalem players celebrating a goal.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Beitar Jerusalem is set to be handed a stiff punishment by UEFA on Thursday when it faces four different charges for the behavior of its fans in last week’s Europa League second qualifying round first leg in Charleroi, Belgium.
Beitar’s case will be discussed by UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body hours before it hosts the Belgians in the return leg at Teddy Stadium.
Nine-man Beitar was thrashed 5-1 in the first leg tie – a match that was held up at the start when fans threw dozens of incendiary devices onto the pitch, enveloping it in smoke. In second half stoppage time, Charleroi goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau was hit by a hard object thrown from the crowd, which forced another delay.
UEFA announced on Wednesday’s that Beitar has been charged with racist behavior (banners and chants), improper conduct of supporters (breaking down fences), setting off and throwing of fireworks and objects and an illicit banner, as well as improper conduct of the team (five or more red and yellowcards combined).
UEFA will in all certainty hand Beitar a hefty fine, possibly reaching hundreds of thousands of euros, and could possibly even suspend the club from European competition.
Charleroi will also face three charges: racist behavior (gestures), setting off and throwing of fireworks and objects, and insufficient organization (segregation of spectators).
Beitar had hoped that Teddy would be full for Thursday’s second leg, but the events both on and off the field in Charleroi mean that only around 7,000 fans are expected at the stadium.
Police ordered the closer of the eastern stand in which La Familia members, who took responsibility for the trouble in Charleroi, are usually seated, with owner Eli Tabib announcing he will not attend the match after putting the club up for sale.
Beitar received further bad news on Wednesday when the club’s main sponsor iTrader, which pays Beitar NIS 1 million a year, announced that it is canceling the deal.
Tabib is also considering selling players to help cover his investment to date, with defender Eli Dasa and midfielder Shlomi Azulay rumored to be wanted by Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Both Dasa and Azulay will miss Thursday’s second leg, with the former suspended after being sent off in Belgium while Azulay is still recovering from injury.
Should Beitar manage to record a remarkable comeback and overcome Charleroi on aggregate, it will face Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine in the third qualifying round.
Hapoel Beersheba is confident it can advance to the third qualifying round on Thursday despite conceding an 87th-minute equalizer to draw 1-1 with FC Thun at Teddy in the first leg last week. Goalkeeper Dudu Goresh, defender Shir Tzedek and midfielder Maharan Radi all made their debuts in the starting lineup last Thursday, with fellow new signings Ben Sahar and Anthony Nwakaeme coming in off the bench.
Ovidiu Hoban’s 26th-minute opener was canceled out by Gianluca Frontino’s penalty three minutes from time to seriously complicate Beersheba’s mission in Switzerland.
Beersheba held several training sessions in Shefayim ahead of its departure to try and get accustomed to synthetic grass, as Thun’s Stockholm Arena has artificial turf.
“It is a different kind of game playing on synthetic grass, but we will not use that as an excuse,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar. “We prepared the best we could for this match. We proved in the first leg that we are just as good as Thun. It is going to be even more difficult on the road, but I told the players that we are going to win the match.”
The winner of the tie will next face the winner of the contest between FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein and Nõmme Kalju FC of Estonia.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which will begin its participation in the third qualifying round after ending last season in second place, will play Slovan Liberec of the Czech Republic next week.
All the third round ties will be played on July 30 and August 6.
“We played well in the first leg and I believe that if we can keep our composure we can register a good result,” said Beersheba striker Sahar.