bnei hasharon flee 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
ULEB's decision to punish Bnei Hasharon with a technical loss and a 50,000 euro fine is not only absurd and ridiculous, it also sets a dangerous precedent.
By choosing to take the easy way out - appeasing the agitators rather than confronting them - ULEB has sent out a message that legitimizes the cynical political abuse of sports.
Bnei Hasharon chairman Eldad Akunis was rightfully outraged.
"ULEB is burying its head in the ground," he said in response to the punishment his club received for having to take cover in its dressing room for two hours after thousands of hostile Turkish fans stormed the court ahead of the start of the Eurocup encounter against Turk Telekom of Ankara last week.
"It is encouraging violence, endangering the lives of the Israeli players and increasing the motivation of terrorist groups to use sporting events as a platform. It's inconceivable that a team which has fallen victim to a brutal attack will be punished. We are amazed that until this moment no one in ULEB has officially condemned the incident.
"This decision only increases and enhances the chances that political organizations will try to take advantage of sporting events. However, no one can ensure that next time such an incident occurs it will end without casualties," the Bnei Hasharon chairman added.
Akunis makes an important point.
Sadly, it may be impossible to completely separate politics and sports. But with Israeli athletes across the world being targeted by protesters, the different sporting federations need to make clear that they will not tolerate being exploited for political purposes.
A mere 20 New Zealanders took advantage of Shahar Pe'er's presence in Auckland last week and proved how easy it is to make world headlines and turn a sporting event into a political discussion.
Hopefully, ULEB's ludicrous decision proves no more than a one-off act of misjudgment, and sport scan continue to display all that is good about man rather than the opposite.
Earl Warren, former US Supreme Court chief justice, perhaps put it best: "I always turn to the sports pages first, which record people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures."
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