HAPOEL HAIFA’S Ali Khatib 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Petah Tikva appealed its three-point deduction on Wednesday in the hope
that the Israel Football Association’s High Court will reduce its sentence and
boost its hopes of Premier League survival.
Petah Tikva was deducted
three points and fined NIS 25,000 by the IFA’s disciplinary court on Tuesday for
its role in the brawl that followed last month’s 2-1 victory over Hapoel Haifa
at the Moshava Stadium.
IFA judges Israel Shimoni and Giora Landau
explained that they decided to hand Petah Tikva an especially severe punishment
due to the fact that it was two of its employees – goalkeeping coach Ami Genish
and Yigal Maman, a fan who worked as a steward in the match – who assaulted
Haifa player Ali Khatib, who had to spend the night in hospital.
brawl ended with just players being involved the punishment would have been
minor,” the judges wrote in their verdict. “But the severe assault committed by
two Petah Tikva employees is an unprecedented event which requires an especially
In TV footage of the incident, Khatib is clearly seen
as throwing a punch at Maccabi’s Danny Preda before being head-butted by Genish
and getting kicked while on the ground by Mamam.
Khatib and teammate
Stefan Denkovic and Petah Tikva’s Preda were all suspended for three matches for
their parts in the melee, while Haifa’s Gal Arel was handed a twomatch
Genish, who together with Maman is set to stand trial in a criminal
court for assaulting Khatib, was suspended from all activity for 18
Hapoel Haifa was only fined NIS 25,000 for its role in the
fracas, and while the northern club was obviously pleased with the verdict,
Petah Tikva owner Amos Luzon was infuriated.
“People love to hate the
Luzon family,” he said on Wednesday after handing in his club’s appeal. “I was
concerned before the hearing that the judges would be affected by the media
witch-hunt against the Luzons and that is exactly what happened.
problem is that the IFA courts want to decide which teams get relegated and that
should not happen. We should get the same punishment as Hapoel
The three-point deduction sent Petah Tikva into the relegation
zone, three points below Hapoel Beersheba and safety with five matches remaining
in the season.
Petah Tikva visits Beersheba on Monday in what will be a
crunch showdown in the battle against relegation regardless of what the High
Court decides when it hears Petah Tikva’s appeal on Sunday.
can pile the pressure on both Petah Tikva and Beersheba when it hosts Hapoel
Rishon Lezion on Saturday, with a win to put it eight points clear of the bottom
Also in the relegation playoffs, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon hosts
rockbottom Hapoel Petah Tikva, while Betar Jerusalem goes for its sixth straight
win when it welcomes Hapoel Acre to Teddy Stadium on Sunday.
Kiryat Shmona officially clinching the league title with a 0- 0 draw against
Hapoel Tel Aviv last week, the championship playoffs are now all about
qualification for European competition.
The teams to finish in second and
third place will book a Europa League berth, while fourth will also be
sufficient should Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa or Ashdod SC – who all advanced
to the State Cup semifinals with Ramat Hasharon during the week – win the cup
and end the season among the top three.
Second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv,
which has won just one of its past seven league matches, hosts Bnei Yehuda on
Saturday, while Maccabi Haifa, which only trails the Reds on goal difference,
visits Maccabi Netanya, which is just a further point back.
in eighth has real reason for optimism being only four points behind second,
knowing a home win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday would put it back within
touching distance of the top three.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts
Kiryat Shmona in its first match as the newly-crowned champion.