Soccer scandal: Two more Beersheba players arrested

Assi Rahamim and Oz Ifrah arrested on suspicions of accepting money to fix a match scheduled for this past weekend.

hapoel beersheva 88 (photo credit: )
hapoel beersheva 88
(photo credit: )
The crisis in Israeli soccer deepened on Sunday as two more Hapoel Beersheba players were arrested on suspicions of accepting money to fix a National League match that had been scheduled for this past weekend. Beersheba goalkeeper Assi Rahamim and defender Oz Ifrah joined three of their teammates who were detained on Friday. Rahamim was taken into police custody Sunday after allegedly knowing that his teammates were being paid to throw the match but failing to speak up until Friday night. Ifrah was also arrested in connection to the scandal, which continued to cause immeasurable damage to Israeli soccer. Yehiel Tzagai, Evyatar Iluz and Miki Atiya were arrested Friday night after Atiya confessed to the team's coaching staff that he was given money to fix Saturday's scheduled match against Hapoel Ra'anana. The match was postponed by the Israel Football Association and the Toto soccer betting pool was reduced from NIS 40 million to NIS 10 million. Meanwhile, the police, the IFA and the gambling council all began on Sunday to deal with the repercussions. Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi called IFA chairman Itzhak "Itche" Menahem on Sunday and assured him that the police plan to cooperate with the IFA in the effort to eradicate illegal gambling from Israeli soccer. The gambling council held an emergency meeting on Sunday morning following the weekend's events and decided on several measures to fight match-fixing. Gambling council chairman Gidon Brickman called Karadi and offered to fund a special police task force that will combat illegal gambling. "Israeli soccer has been hit with an earthquake and we're determined to stamp out illegal gambling and match-fixing," Brickman said on Sunday. "The council will make available all of its resources for this matter." The council also plans to demand from the IFA that at the end of every match that appears on the Toto form, three random players will be subjected to a polygraph test. The players' union has already announced that it will not agree to this and has threatened to strike should it be implemented. For the first time in 40 years, Toto will not be played this weekend. However, the following week the prize is set to stand at a record NIS 55 million, but will include only Israeli and English Premier League matches and no matches from Israel's lower divisions. In an unconnected but related affair, private investigation company Weitzman Ya'ar began on Sunday its inquiry into alleged match-fixing by former Hapoel Kfar Saba goalkeeper Oshri Levy. The investigation was ordered by the IFA after Levy was released from Kfar Saba last Wednesday following suspicions that he may have fixed some of the club's matches. Kfar Saba coach Eli Ohana was one of the first people to appear in front of the investigators on Sunday, with Levy expected to be questioned on Monday. "I'm still hoping that Oshri Levy will be cleared at the end of the investigation," Ohana said. "We decided to release him from the club after he failed a polygraph test. As soon as we had any doubt, we preferred to cut him loose. "We know that in recent days, Israeli soccer has been put in an unpleasant position, but these incidents have been going on for years and now is the time to root it all out."