Authorities move to curb soccer violence

Only two weeks into the regular season, police already arrested a number of fans for violence.

Government ministers joined soccer coaches and Olympic athletes at Israel's national sports center Monday, but Bloomfield Stadium - and not Beijing - was the focus of discussion as politicians and athletics professionals met to discuss the disturbing phenomenon of soccer violence. Internal Security Minister Director-General Ronnie Falk, who was appointed a year ago to head up a committee probing sports violence in Israel and its solutions, delivered his findings during the meeting. One of the fastest results was the initiation of a pilot program at Kiryat Eliezer and Bloomfield stadiums through which the number of police present during matches will be gradually reduced. Hand-in-hand with that, the number of civilians keeping order in the stadium will be increased, and their range of authority will be widened. The pilot project is reminiscent of the solution employed in France through which police are not present at all in the stadiums during soccer matches. Israel Football Association Chairman Avi Luzon also presented the committee with a proposal by the IFA which would seek to rein in the unruly fans by creating a specific set of laws concerning violence during athletic events. The committee members congratulated Luzon and the IFA for their initiative, and decided to immediately appoint a professional team to consider each clause of the proposal, and to determine whether to bring some of it or all of it forward to be voted into law. That team will be required to deliver their findings to the committee no later than November of this year. Following the committee's meeting, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Science, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle held a joint discussion with prominent figures in the Israeli sporting world, ranging from the heads of the national basketball, Olympics, soccer and sports betting associations as well as with athletes, managers, coaches and even the fans themselves. During the discussion, each party brought forward their proposals for reducing instances of violence at sporting events. Only two weeks into the regular season, police have already arrested a number of fans for breaking the law and disturbing public order at soccer matches.