Hapoel Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Only women and children will be allowed to enter Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Premier
League match against Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Sunday, the Israel Football
Association High Court decided on Thursday.
Hapoel was supposed to play
against the runaway league-leader in front of an empty Bloomfield Stadium after
being sentenced to host three matches without fans, as well as being deducted
three points, for the violence displayed by its supporters after the derby
encounter against Maccabi Tel Aviv last Monday.
Hapoel appealed against
the punishment, and although the court will only make its final decision next
week, it has chosen in the meantime to allow women and children under the age 14
to attend Sunday’s showdown as suggested in a letter sent to the court by IFA
chairman Avi Luzon.
The “women and children only” ruling was first
implemented by the Turkish Football Association earlier this season, with 41,000
supporters showing up for Fenerbahce’s 1-1 draw with Manisaspur.
Saturday, Hapoel Haifa will be hoping to record a rare double against its
cross-town rival at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
While Hapoel Haifa spent much
of the past decade in the National League, Maccabi Haifa dominated Israeli
soccer, winning seven championships in the last 11 seasons.
But after a
decade of heartache, Hapoel finally claimed a league derby win over the Greens
three months ago, coming back from a goal down to defeat Maccabi 3-1 in front of
the reigning champion’s stunned fans.
That defeat saw the Greens fall 10
points behind first-placed Kiryat Shmona and was effectively the beginning of
the end of the team’s title defense.
Despite last week’s humbling 4-1
home thrashing at the hands of Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi still has second place
in its sights.
The loss to the Reds left Elisha Levy’s men in sixth
place, four points behind Hapoel Tel Aviv, but while the Greens are fighting for
European qualification, Hapoel Haifa has got far more urgent
Last week’s 2-0 defeat at Maccabi Tel Aviv means there are just
four points separating Hapoel in 11th place and Hapoel Rishon Lezion in
With rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva effectively already relegated,
five teams look set to battle until the bitter end to avoid finishing in 14th
and 15th places which lead to the National League at the season’s
This weekend’s matches will also have an added importance as
they will decide the order of play for the final seven weeks of the
The league will be split into two sections ahead of next weekend,
with the bottom eight to all meet each other one more time before the end of the
season and the top eight to also each play seven more games.
Jerusalem, which is tied on 31 points with Hapoel Haifa, could find itself in
the relegation zone by the time it goes for its third consecutive victory
against Bnei Yehuda on Monday.
A win for 13th-placed Maccabi Petah Tikva
at Hapoel Acre on Saturday will take it above Betar, although Petah Tikva has
picked up just a single point from its past five matches.
Beersheba can also leapfrog Jerusalem with a win over fellow-struggler Rishon,
should the security situation in the south of Israel allow Saturday’s match to
go ahead as scheduled.
Ashdod SC’s home game against Bnei Sakhnin is also
in doubt following the renewed rocket fire from Gaza.
Ramat Hasharon, which is in danger of being dragged into the relegation scuffle
after winning just once in its past nine encounters, will visit Hapoel Petah
Tikva, while Maccabi Netanya hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv.