Luzon asks Shahar to head committee

Israeli soccer looks for next step to emerge from turmoil following rash of on-field brawls.

Soccer fight 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Soccer fight 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon announced on Sunday that he has approached Maccabi Haifa owner Jacob Shahar asking him to head a committee to help local soccer climb out of its current crisis.
A violent on-pitch brawl at the end of Friday’s National League match between Hapoel Ramat Gan and Bnei Lod prompted Luzon to cancel the rest of the weekend’s league fixtures in the top two divisions and on Sunday he revealed how he plans to lead Israeli soccer to better days.
Fighting broke out between players and club officials of second division leader Lod and its nearest rival Ramat Gan following the final whistle to a 1- 1 draw between the two teams, which are battling for a lone promotion spot to the Premier League.
After postponing the fixtures, which have been rescheduled for this coming weekend, Luzon declared Sunday that the former president of the Tel Aviv District Court, judge Uri Goren, will be the new president of the IFA’s High Court and will be given a free hand to make reforms in order to increase the public’s trust in the institution.
The IFA chairman is also hoping Shahar accepts his proposal to set up a committee with the purpose of making recommendations that will lead to a better future for Israeli soccer.
“I have asked Jacob Shahar to head a committee of which he will determine the members to bring new and diverse ideas to improve Israeli soccer and bring the fans back to the stadiums,” Luzon said in a speech, refusing to take questions from media representatives.
“I will ask the committee to make its recommendations of what needs to be done within 60 days.
"I understand that as IFA chairman everyone is looking to me, but this isn’t just my battle.
“This battle belongs to all the teams, fans and the entire country. We need to unite to achieve our goal. I guarantee we will achieve it. We will fight the violence on the way to a better future for us and our children.”
The incident at Ramat Gan’s Winter Stadium came less than three weeks after an on-field brawl between players and officials of Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Haifa. Petah Tikva was docked three points for its part in the scuffle, only for the punishment to be deferred to next season.
However, following Friday’s fight, the IFA appealed to its High Court to hold another hearing regarding Petah Tikva’s punishment so it can set clear guidelines on when to deduct points.
It was granted its request on Sunday, with a special five-judge panel to address the matter on Monday evening.
Referee Meir Levy filed his report on the brawl on Sunday, calling it the “most violent and disgraceful” scene he has experienced in his 27 years as a ref.
Levy singled out Ramat Gan’s Yakir Shina as the instigator and named six Ramat Gan players as well as three Lod players and Lod coach Sliman Azabarga to have participated in the free-for-all .
All in all, 12 players and Lod’s coach and assistant coach, as well as both clubs, face a date with the IFA’s disciplinary court on Tuesday.
“In 27 years as an active referee I have never encountered such a violent and disgraceful scene involving players,” Levy wrote.