Soccer: Riot breaks out as Balili fouled by Egyptian player
Pitch invasion forces referee to abandon Turkish league match as fans of Israeli striker's team riled by referee's apparent leniency.
By JEREMY LAST
Israeli striker Pini Balili's opening league game for Turkish side Sivasspor ended in riots on Sunday after he was fouled by an opposing Egyptian player in the final minutes, prompting a pitch invasion.
Egypt's Ayman Abdul-Aziz, who was playing for rival Trabzonspor, was handed a yellow card for the tackle which left Balili lying on the grass.
The crowd, who appeared to believe Abdul-Aziz deserved to be sent off, were incensed by the referee's decision and dozens of supporters began running on to the field attempting to attack the referee and players.
The referee was forced to abandon the Turkcell Super League game with just four minutes left to play and Trabzonspor leading 1-0.
This was not the first incident in which the former Hapoel Tel Aviv player has collided with an Egyptian player. In September 2006 Balili clashed with Konyaspor defender Abdel Zaher al-Saka. Balili later claimed the background for Saka's attack against him was the Second Lebanon War.
Sivasspor President Mecnun Otyakmaz placed the blame on the crowd.
"We have injured players because of the unruly behavior of the fans," he said.
The Turkish Football Federation will this week decide what the final result of the game will be and if any punishment will be handed out.
Speaking to Turkish television after the game Balili hinted at anti-Semitic motives, saying "He is Arab, I am Jewish, it is a bit of a problem. But we are professional soccer players."
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