Betar, Hapoel Tel Aviv exchange barbs over Tamuz

Controversial sending off of Hapoel’s Tamuz and alleged racist abuse directed at him by Betar fans has both clubs up in arms.

REFEREE OREL GREENFELD gives red card 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
REFEREE OREL GREENFELD gives red card 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A day after battling in a memorable match, Betar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv engaged in a war of words on Tuesday.
The controversial sending off of Hapoel’s Toto Tamuz and the alleged racist abuse directed at him by Betar fans had both clubs up in arms.
The incident in question occurred in the 65th minute of the showdown at Teddy Stadium when Tamuz was shown a second yellow card by referee Orel Greenfeld for putting his finger to his mouth to silence the crowd after giving Hapoel a 2-1 lead.
Greenfeld determined that Tamuz deserved a second yellow as he was provoking the fans of his former team, although such goal celebrations are regularly seen in Europe, with the likes of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo never being booked in such instances.
Betar went on to claim a 3-2 victory against 10-man Hapoel and the Reds directed their fury towards Greenfeld and claimed that Tamuz’s reaction was a result of the racist abuse he had endured since the start of the match.
“Hapoel Tel Aviv is backing Toto Tamuz, who suffered from an ugly racist attack by Betar Jerusalem fans, who howled at him, threw bananas at him and cursed him in an offensive manner which shouldn’t be tolerated,” read a Hapoel letter sent to Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon.
“Racism is intolerable and unforgivable and we will fight it with all our means.
“Tamuz’s sending off was a reward to racism and a distorted justification of this dangerous phenomenon.”
Tamuz faces at least a one-match suspension for his red card, but could also sit out two games or more, including the Tel Aviv derby, as he was charged by the IFA due to his reaction towards Greenfeld after being given his marching orders.
Betar will not stand trial for racist behavior as Greenfeld didn’t mention any such incidents in his match report.
“Hapoel Tel Aviv’s claims of howling and racism directed at Toto Tamuz are an unsuccessful attempt to find an excuse for their defeat and to vilify the Betar fans,” a Betar press release read.
“We are certain that had there been any racist behavior it would have been mentioned in the referee’s report the way it was after last season’s match against Hapoel.
“Hapoel should restrain Tamuz, who provokes the Betar fans every time the teams meet.
“It is about time Tamuz gets the punishment he deserves for his provocative behavior.”
Hapoel midfielder Eric Djemba Djemba backed his team’s version of events, claiming that Tamuz was put in an impossible situation.
“I know it’s football and sometimes the fans can use any type of way to destroy the player, but yesterday it was really difficult to accept what happened,” he said on Tuesday.
“When you are playing and they call you ‘cushi’ [Hebrew for negro] that is something that is very hard to take.
“I think Toto was very frustrated because when we walked on to the pitch they threw bananas at us.
“They need to stop doing it. Football is not about color, it’s about playing. It’s a sport.
“This was the first time I have seen this in Israel, the first time I saw a sign of racism,” added the former Manchester United midfielder.
“I have experience and I know how to deal with this, but Toto is young and it was difficult for him to get it.
“When he scored he just reacted. It came from the heart. It was impossible for him.
“I love this country and I’m happy to be here, but it’s just football. It is sport. It’s not about color.”