Occasional violence in any sport is a common spectacle to us – the observer.
Taking our beautiful sport into account, we have come across game day hooliganism, free-for-all pitch brawls and have heard of the lives of numerous innocent victims being taken away.
The most recent being the unfortunate disaster that took place in Port Said, during an Egyptian league game between Al Ahly and Al Masry. Seventy-five individuals ended up losing their lives. The significance of that day would only make us think that Football Associations all across the world would learn from such an incident. And that they would formulate strategies to prevent such on-pitch situations.
But that was not the case in Israel this past weekend. All games in the first and second divisions were postponed on the word given by Association Chairman Avi Luzon.
The Ligat ha’ Al, the top flight of Israeli football, had always been scrutinized due to its on and off the pitch violence, be it between athletes or spectators. This time it was the second division Liga Leumit (also known as the National League) that was under the spotlight.
Hapoel Ramat Gan and Bnei Lod recently together executed the latest sad chapter in Israeli football.
A few seconds after the end of the game between league leader Bnei Lod and it’s closest adversary Hapoel Ramat Gan, a brawl broke out that was pretty much worse than simply some verbal abuses and pushing. Players and staff threw in punches and kicks at each other as if at the end of the game, they turned into MMA fighters in a cage, ready to be unleashed, except that there was no cage here and the shock absorbing floor foam was green in color. It’s mindboggling that no serious injuries were recorded. The video below says it all.
PS: Keep an eye on the guy with the blue shirt and jeans (in the above picture). Looks like the mandatory service in the IDF helped his prospects of being the top suspect in the fight. He was even talking to a media journalist as the violence was taking place. Amazing.
And all this, just a few weeks after members of Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Haifa (both top division teams) were involved in an on-pitch brawl.
The result? Avi Luzon has promised strict action against the perpetrators. Seven players from Ramat Gan and three from Bnei Lod have been identified along with the head and assistant coaches of the latter.
Unless and until this distasteful conduct on the pitch is controlled, this will only get worse leading to a disaster we wouldn’t want to contemplate. Spectators condemn the leagues for “taking fun out of the game” by disciplining such behavior, but one need only see a brawl such as this to recognize that a line should be drawn eventually.
Bottom-line, as a group we must stop justifying inappropriate behavior simply because it takes place in a sporting venue. Athletes’ and responsibility go hand in hand and the fact that they involuntarily act as role models to the youth today should make it a stronger resolve for themselves to be held to a higher standard.