Growing pains on the gridiron

Game between he Big Blue Jerusalem Lions and the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers never took place following a hearing at the Petah Tikva District Court earlier that day.

IFL logo 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
IFL logo 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The new season of the Israel Football League got underway on Thursday evening in Jerusalem, but what was supposed to be a festive occasion was marred by controversy after one of the night’s games had to be postponed.
While the Travel Leaders’ Beersheba Black Swarm beat the ISD Jerusalem Kings 30-12 in the league opener at Kraft Stadium, the second game of the night between the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions and the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers never took place following a hearing at the Petah Tikva District Court earlier that day.
After being told by the league that he could not join the Pioneers as his request to leave the Hatikva Hammers was made after the agreedupon October 1 deadline and he did not get a release from his former team, Lewis Ducker filed a lawsuit against the IFL and the Hammers, claiming that he was unjustly being prevented from playing on a team of his choosing.
Judge Hila Gerstel accepted Ducker’s claims and said that should the league refuse to allow him to play she would shut it down until the matter was determined or she would rule that Duker could play for the Pioneers until she made her final decision, possibly also making the IFL liable for all of the court costs.
“Faced with the options of having to postpone our season while this made its way through the court system, or having to bite the bullet and concede that we were railroaded out of viable options that would ultimately benefit the league, we decided to heed the judge’s ‘friendly advice’ and mitigate our damages,” IFL Commissioner Uriel Sturm wrote in a letter posted on the league’s Facebook page.
However, despite the court’s ruling, many of the teams apart from the Pioneers made it clear that they stand by the league’s stance and threatened that they would not play the Pioneers if Ducker was allowed to move against the unofficial regulations the teams had agreed upon.
As things currently stand, there is still no solution to the rift in what is an otherwise sporting amateur league.
The IFL will be hoping to finally end the scandal when it holds a meeting with all team representatives on Tuesday.
In other opening-weekend action, the Nemo Family Haifa Underdogs road a resurgent offense to a 52-0 blanking of the expansion Arnold’s Northern Stars way up north in Shelomi.
On Saturday night, in a rematch of last season’s Israel Bowl championship, the Talpion Judean Rebels and Bourbon Street Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres met in a high-octane showdown in Neve Golan.
In a back-and-forth battle, the Sabres were up by just a touchdown, 44-37, with the Rebels furiously driving down the field for the tying – and possibly winning – score, when the stadium lights went out with less than 20 seconds remaining.
In an mutual decision on field, both teams and the league agreed to postpone the final few ticks of the contest until December 29, when the Sabres travel to Jerusalem to face the Lions.
While the unfinished result left neither team satisfied, the upside is it extended the taut drama of the intense rivalry for a few weeks longer.