Soccer: Betar J'lem appeals punishment for fan trouble

Club claims that the punishment is "unprecedented, discriminative and harming to the sporting spirit."

betar riot 224  (photo credit: Channel 10)
betar riot 224
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Betar Jerusalem and the Israel Football Association on Tuesday both appealed the punishment handed to the reigning champion last week for its fans pitch invasion at Teddy Stadium against Maccabi Herzliya. In its appeal to the IFA's High Court Betar demanded that the tribunal's verdict from last week be completely reversed. The tribunal decided last week to deduct two points from Betar's tally this season, and a further four points next season and also gave the team a technical 2-0 loss in last Sunday's match against Herzliya. The club was also sentenced to play its remaining three home matches of the season against Bnei Yehuda, Maccabi Netanya and Bnei Sakhnin in front of empty stands, as well as the first match at Teddy next season, and was also handed a NIS 30,000 fine. The club admitted in its appeal that its fans behaved in a "stupid and reckless manner", but claimed that the punishment was "unprecedented, discriminative and harming to the sporting spirit." The IFA, on behalf of the Premier League's bottom sides, appealed Betar's technical loss to Herzliya after the struggling teams claimed that Herzliya had been given an unfair advantage and that its match against Jerusalem should be replayed. The IFA's prosecutor had originally only requested for the game to be replayed but the tribunal decided a more for severe punishment should be handed out, hence the appeal. The IFA's tribunal also decided that the eastern stand in Teddy, from which the fans stormed the pitch, will be closed for a further two matches and that should there be a recurrence of the incident the club will be shutdown for two matches. Betar was leading 1-0 against Herzliya when thousands of its fans ran on to the field in the 87th minute of the match to celebrate their team closing in on a second straight league title. The IFA's High Court is expected to decide on the appeals next week.