Tel Aviv derby called off after fans attack players, security guards
Monday's derby between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv was canceled after fans invaded the field and attacked players and security personnel, according to the Associated Press.
In the 33rd minute, with the game tied 1-1, a shirtless fan ran onto the field and confronted Maccabi's Eran Zehavi, attempting to hit and kick the player. Zehavi fought back before security guards soon dragged the fan away.
A referee then gave Zehavi a red card for his actions, angering him and his teammates. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Zehavi at first refused to leave and Maccabi general manager Jordi Cruyff threatened to have his players walk away from the game.
Play resumed 10 minutes later but was quickly stopped again when more fans entered the field, while some in the stands threw objects at Maccabi players. From Haaretz:
"I recommended to the referee that the game be called off," said Eyal Berkowitz, Hapoel's sports manager. "It's not soccer, it's an atmosphere of war."
"I think it's embarrassing, the spectators came to watch a game," said Maccabi coach Pako Ayestaran.
The incident comes weeks after a Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a nationalist Albanian flag was flown over the field, causing a confrontation between the two teams as fans began throwing objects at Albanian players.
Maccabi entered the match tied for second place in Israel's Premier League with 15 points in six games. Hapoel, which entered tied for fifth place with 10 points, defeated Maccabi in the teams' last matchup last season for its first win in the local derby since November 2012.
- Ben Estes