Local basketball shocked into action

Team chairmen take draconian measures to curb fan violence.

firecracker attack malha (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
firecracker attack malha
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israeli basketball on Monday struggled to come to terms with the traumatic events that saw a security guard lose two fingers at Jerusalem's Malha Arena Sunday night. Yoav Glitzstein underwent nine hours of surgery at Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital on Monday after a firecracker he attempted to clear from the arena floor during the Hapoel Jerusalem-Hapoel Holon game exploded in his hand. The chairmen of all 10 BSL teams gathered for an emergency meeting on Monday and decided on immediate measures to try and prevent similar occurrences in the future. The BSL announced that should a firecracker or smoke-bomb be thrown onto the court during a game, the encounter will be stopped immediately and the team to which the guilty fan roots for will lose the match. Also, the team's home arena will be shut down for several games and the club's supporters will not be allowed to attend their side's away games. Maccabi Tel Aviv's game against Ironi Ramat Gan, which was scheduled for Monday, was postponed. But the BSL said the league will resume play this coming Sunday. "When a security guard has to jump on a firecracker to save lives, something must be done," BSL chairman Avner Kopel said Monday. "The actions we've taken are only the beginning, and I'm certain more will be done in the future. "A BSL committee will begin work on Tuesday and will determine what needs to change so fans can attend games without fearing for their safety. "We have also requested that each BSL team create a list of problematic fans so that we can prevent those people from attending games." Hapoel Holon owner and coach Miki Dorsman, who was the closest to Glitzstein when the firecracker went off, said he had not slept since the incident and was still in a state of shock. "As far as the team in concerned, the fan that threw the firecracker is a terrorist," he said. "I've lost my desire to coach. I think this terrorist must be imprisoned for a long time. "Hapoel Holon's not at fault for what happened, the players aren't at fault and the normative fans aren't at fault. I'm not responsible for what the supporters do." Hapoel Jerusalem chairman Danny Klein disagreed with Dorsman's stance, saying Israeli basketball was at its lowest ever point. "This was undoubtedly the worst experience I have ever had in Israeli basketball," he said. "We have reached an all-time low. Nothing can return Yoav's fingers and we are all at fault that he is now disabled. If we don't take the proper actions, matters will only get worse. A team owner is responsible for his fans, and we must now decide in which direction Israeli basketball is heading." Israeli Basketball Association chairman Yermi Olmert condemned Sunday night's incident, saying: "I call for Israeli law enforcement to take a hard line against these delinquents and get rid of violence in the basketball arenas." T he Israeli players and coaches union released a joint statement on Monday calling for basketball fans to stamp out violence. "The coaches and players will work together to eradicate this criminal behavior from basketball courts in Israel," read the statement, which was signed by Coaches Union chairman Tzvika Sherf and Players Union chairman Nir Alon. "We will act against the physical and verbal violence and won't allow our beloved sport to be ruined. We call for all basketball fans to join us in this fight so that arenas continue to be a place where families can enjoy a sporting event."