Top 2 Israeli leagues suspended due to violence

The head of Israel’s football association called off matches in

the top two divisions at the weekend following another episode on

Friday of mounting on-field violence.

Israel Football Association chief Avi Luzon canceled Saturday’s

Premier League and National League games after players brawled at

the end of a match between Hapoel Ramat Gan and Bnei Lod.

”I don’t want someone getting killed on the football field,

heaven forbid,” he said. ”With all due respect to football, I

don’t want football played tomorrow after today’s events.”

Luzon told Channel 2 TV that association officials would meet

next week to decide what steps to take to quell the violence. He

said he decided to call off the matches after consulting with

Sports Minister Limor Livnat among others.

Livnat had demanded earlier Friday that all matches, including

youth league games, be called off so football clubs could take

stock.

”Football fields have become battlefields and are a meance to

the public welfare,” she said.

Luzon has been criticized for failing to rein in the increasing

number of violent acts at football games this year. But he told

Channel 2 TV that he won’t resign, saying ”it’s not my

fault.”

Friday’s brawl came just three weeks after a similar melee broke

out at the end of a Premier League game between Maccabi Petah Tikva

and Hapoel Haifa.

The Israel Football Association docked Petah Tikva three league

points but deferred the punishment to next season following an

appeal by the club, which is chaired by Luzon’s brother Amos

Luzon.

The deferral prompted allegations of favoritism.