Local Soccer: Betar Jerusalem crowned champion

Yellows win Israel Premier League after Maccabi Tel Aviv deducted two points for financial irregularities.

betar crush 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
betar crush 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Betar Jerusalem clinched its first Premier League championship in nine years Monday evening when an Israeli Football Association tribunal deducted two points from second-place Maccabi Tel Aviv for financial irregularities. Maccabi was punished for signing a double contract with Croatian midfielder Ivan Rezic, who ironically was released by the club midway through the season after his disappointing play on the field. "The real good news of the day is that one of the injured boys from Sunday night woke up," Betar coach Yossi Mizrahi said after hearing his club had won its fifth ever league title. "Maccabi could still appeal the decision and get the points back." Midfielder Michael Zandberg, who has now won four consecutive championships after joining Betar last summer from three-time defending champion Maccabi Haifa, was also quick to stress that the most important thing is that the fans injured on Sunday night will recover quickly. "This is my fourth championship and Betar's first in nine years," he said. "It's very exciting. I hope the two injured teenagers will be all right and that all the fans get well quickly. When that happens we will be able to celebrate properly." "In soccer, a team gains and loses points only on the pitch,' Betar chairman Eli Arazi said. "I'm not happy that Maccabi Tel Aviv was deducted points today. "I think a fine would have been a far more appropriate punishment. We would have taken the championship anyway. This isn't the way I wanted to take the title."