Local Soccer: Betar game abandoned as fans riot

The Israel Football Association announced that Betar will face a tribunal later this week.

betar riot 224  (photo credit: Channel 10)
betar riot 224
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Betar Jerusalem was on course to beat Maccabi Herzliya 1-0 at Teddy Stadium in a rather dry encounter on Sunday night and come within a point of securing a second successive title. However the home fans invaded the pitch in the 86th minute and refused to leave, leading to the game's abandonment. "We waited for 20 minutes to resume the match, but we couldn't do so," referee Alon Yeffet said. The Israel Football Association announced that Betar will face a tribunal later this week. As the game lay scoreless at half time, the fans whistled in frustration, as it seemed that their team was going to limp home to another draw in what has been a poor couple of weeks for them. However the Betar faithful were not to be denied and after Idan Tal struck a sweet free kick midway through the half, they charged the pitch with four minutes left on the clock. After the violence of last years pitch invasion, the police chose not to interfere. In the resultant mellee players were swamped under piles of adoring fans or hoisted on shoulders to be patted on the back. However the fans on the Ultras side were reluctant to leave altogether and even after the exhortations of the players and chanting from the crowd on the opposite side, accusing the sabotagers of being Hapoel Jerusalem fans in disguise, hundreds of fans refused to cooperate. After waiting on the side lines for ten minutes, some fans chose to invade the pitch again and, with the Herzliya players already changed and preparing to leave, the game was called off. The match itself was fairly uneventful. Tal and Derek Boateng controlled the midfield without offering anything cohesive going forward. In the 18th minute Ben Shushan stung the underside of the post with a vicious drive from the left handside of the box and Romulo just failed to connect with the rebound. Five minutes later and Betar should have been one up. Zandberg slotted the ball to David Amsalem who squared it to Ben-Shushan. The young striker connected with an easy finish, but Amsalem was adjudged to have been offside in what was a dubious call from the linesman. After knocking heads with Malka in the 56th Ben Shushan looked to be in some pain on the sides lines. He was subsequently withdrawn to be replaced by Gal Alberman and Betar had lost their only real penetrating threat. However if anything the injury proved to galvanize Jersalem. In the 67th Boateng sprayed a lovely long ball out to right where Ziv picked it up. Unmarked, he dribbled towards the box where he was taken out by a cynical tackle from Malka. Boateng and Tal hovered over the ball. Boateng made as if to take it , fooling the wall whom Tal struck the freekick under and past the grasping hand of Edri. The goal brought the crowd to life and with the introduction of Tamuz the team seemed to shift out of first gear as well. Schum daringly opted to stick to a tactical decision he made before the goal and go for a three-pronged attack. In 75th Gal Alberman put Aviram Bruchian through, but Edri had easy save to make from a move that deserved a better finish. By now the Hezliya defense were beginning to look ragged, but it was to count for little after the pitch invasion made everything that went before it irrelevant.