ISRAELI FOOTBALL made worldwide headlines on Monday night – unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Monday’s Tel Aviv derby between Hapoel and Maccabi only lasted 34 minutes – that’s how long it took a Hapoel supporter to race on the pitch to try to assault Maccabi player Eran Zahavi. Zahavi retaliated, a pitch melee ensured, the player received a red card, the game resumed half an hour later, more fans stormed the pitch before the referee eventually called it a day. ‘Disgrace’ and ‘shameful’ were just a couple of words used to describe the incident and that was from the Israeli press. Former West Ham player Eyal Berkovic, who now manages Hapoel, called it ‘a black day’, while football officials and politicians slammed the scenes. The repercussions spilled over the following day when supporters fought outside a courthouse, beating each other with belts and sticks on the streets of Tel Aviv. All eyes will now be on the Israeli Football Association, who have to decide what punishment is meted out to the clubs.
THE IFA have already been busy after their disciplinary court fined Bnei Sakhnin £2,466 for paying tribute to fugitive, former Balad MK Azmi Bishara. Honouring a man who fled Israel in 2007 while under investigation for passing information to Hezbollah, ahead of a Premier League match a fortnight ago, Israeli politicians had called for the club to be expelled from the League. However, while the court found Sakhnin guilty of political involvement, it acquitted them of misconduct, and on top of the fine, handed them a one-year suspended fine of £5,755. Judge Israel Shimoni said: “The court didn’t look into the criminal allegations facing Bishara or any aspect regarding the money he raised. The court only addressed the club’s decision to use a sporting assembly in order to promote a controversial political figure.”