hapoel holon 88.
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An Israel Basketball Association tribunal sentenced Hapoel Holon to play eight home games in front of empty stands on Thursday for its fans' involvement in the firecracker incident that saw Malha security guard Yoav Glitzenstein lose two fingers last Sunday.
Holon will play Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa, Ironi Nahariya and its State Cup quarterfinal in an empty arena.
The second half of the punishment, however, could be annulled should the club come up with a detailed educational plan for its supporters by next March to prevent a similar incident from reoccurring.
The tribunal also decided that Holon will suffer a technical loss to Hapoel Jerusalem in the game that was abandoned because of the firecracker explosion.
"The club is responsible for its fans' behavior even at away games," the verdict read. "Holon's claim that the hosting club should be responsible for the visiting fans is absurd and unacceptable."
Holon owner and coach Miki Dorsman was enraged with the tribunal's decision.
"We have no control over how people behave and we can't be responsible for coming up with a plan to prevent this from happening again," he told Army Radio on Thursday. "The game was played in Jerusalem and they should also be held accountable."
Dorsman, who after meeting with the tribunal on Tuesday said that he would retire from coaching regardless of the punishment, was far less definite of his future plans on Thursday.
"I asked my players yesterday for a week off," he said. "They don't want me to leave. I have to meet with my legal advisor and decide whether I'm interested in staying."
In the meantime, Dorsman announced that assistant coach Ofer Heruti will guide the team in its next league game against Bnei Hasharon on Monday.
The IBA's legal advisor, Shuki Kramer, was pleased with Thursday's sentencing.
"This is the first time a tribunal has decided to give a club an educational punishment," he said. "This is a very important message to all the clubs and fans. I'm pleased with the decision and I hope Holon's plan proves effective in eradicating violence from the arenas."
Glitzenstein, who is still recovering, spoke extensively for the first time on Thursday.
"This incident broke up my family," he said. "My seven-year-old daughter can't fall asleep. What am I supposed to say when she asks me will my hand be OK," Glitzstein told Army Radio.
"I saw Holon took an offensive rebound so I ran across the court to pick up the object. Three steps later there was a massive explosion and I fell to my knees. I looked up at my hand and saw it was mangled.
"My 13-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son were in the arena and the first thing I thought about was that they don't need to be seeing this. I didn't feel any pain; I was just thinking of my children."
An indictment has been filed against Yossi Malach, who allegedly threw the firecracker. He will remain under arrest at least until November 28.
"He needs to know that he ruined our entire family life and he must pay a price and sit in prison," Glitzenstein said. "Holon is known for its wild fans and this isn't the first time these kinds of things have happened.
"I told Miki [Dorsman] that he should invest his money somewhere else. I would like to have heard what he would have said had his hand been blown off. I'm sure he wouldn't have stayed in basketball.
"I hope to return to Malha soon. Malha is a place of love and beauty and it's my home. I love the Hapoel Jerusalem family and no one will take that away from me."
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