Mac PT appeals harsh three-point deduction

Petah Tikva was deducted three points and fined NIS 25,000 for its role in the brawl against Hapoel Haifa.

HAPOEL HAIFA’S Ali Khatib 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
HAPOEL HAIFA’S Ali Khatib 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Petah Tikva appealed its three-point deduction on Wednesday in the hope that the Israel Football Association’s High Court will reduce its sentence and boost its hopes of Premier League survival.
Petah Tikva was deducted three points and fined NIS 25,000 by the IFA’s disciplinary court on Tuesday for its role in the brawl that followed last month’s 2-1 victory over Hapoel Haifa at the Moshava Stadium.
IFA judges Israel Shimoni and Giora Landau explained that they decided to hand Petah Tikva an especially severe punishment due to the fact that it was two of its employees – goalkeeping coach Ami Genish and Yigal Maman, a fan who worked as a steward in the match – who assaulted Haifa player Ali Khatib, who had to spend the night in hospital.
“Had the brawl ended with just players being involved the punishment would have been minor,” the judges wrote in their verdict. “But the severe assault committed by two Petah Tikva employees is an unprecedented event which requires an especially harsh punishment.”
In TV footage of the incident, Khatib is clearly seen as throwing a punch at Maccabi’s Danny Preda before being head-butted by Genish and getting kicked while on the ground by Mamam.
Khatib and teammate Stefan Denkovic and Petah Tikva’s Preda were all suspended for three matches for their parts in the melee, while Haifa’s Gal Arel was handed a twomatch ban.
Genish, who together with Maman is set to stand trial in a criminal court for assaulting Khatib, was suspended from all activity for 18 months.
Hapoel Haifa was only fined NIS 25,000 for its role in the fracas, and while the northern club was obviously pleased with the verdict, Petah Tikva owner Amos Luzon was infuriated.
“People love to hate the Luzon family,” he said on Wednesday after handing in his club’s appeal. “I was concerned before the hearing that the judges would be affected by the media witch-hunt against the Luzons and that is exactly what happened.
“The problem is that the IFA courts want to decide which teams get relegated and that should not happen. We should get the same punishment as Hapoel Haifa.”
The three-point deduction sent Petah Tikva into the relegation zone, three points below Hapoel Beersheba and safety with five matches remaining in the season.
Petah Tikva visits Beersheba on Monday in what will be a crunch showdown in the battle against relegation regardless of what the High Court decides when it hears Petah Tikva’s appeal on Sunday.
Hapoel Haifa can pile the pressure on both Petah Tikva and Beersheba when it hosts Hapoel Rishon Lezion on Saturday, with a win to put it eight points clear of the bottom three.
Also in the relegation playoffs, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon hosts rockbottom Hapoel Petah Tikva, while Betar Jerusalem goes for its sixth straight win when it welcomes Hapoel Acre to Teddy Stadium on Sunday.
With Ironi Kiryat Shmona officially clinching the league title with a 0- 0 draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv last week, the championship playoffs are now all about qualification for European competition.
The teams to finish in second and third place will book a Europa League berth, while fourth will also be sufficient should Hapoel Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa or Ashdod SC – who all advanced to the State Cup semifinals with Ramat Hasharon during the week – win the cup and end the season among the top three.
Second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv, which has won just one of its past seven league matches, hosts Bnei Yehuda on Saturday, while Maccabi Haifa, which only trails the Reds on goal difference, visits Maccabi Netanya, which is just a further point back.
Even Ashdod in eighth has real reason for optimism being only four points behind second, knowing a home win over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday would put it back within touching distance of the top three.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin hosts Kiryat Shmona in its first match as the newly-crowned champion.