Maccabi midfielder Eran Zahavi’s 33rd minute penalty evened things against Hapoel in the latest edition of the Tel Aviv derby, and the only thing that came out on top was chaos.
A pitch invader came onto the field shortly after the equalizer. An Israel international with 22 caps, Zahavi punched and then kicked the man in the chest as part of a melee on the field, and was given a red card.
The match was suspended, but its resumption was brief; Another pitch invasion caused the cancelation of the match.
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There’s part of me that thinks Zahavi shouldn’t have been given the red card, even with the karate kick, but I also cannot imagine what it must be like to referee in that sort of hate-charged atmosphere (not to mention a politically-unstable region). To let Zahavi off, even with a yellow, would’ve been to invite more trouble from offended fans.
Sadly, there’s no way to guard against this other than more security guards than there’s room on the pitch, or playing derby matches in empty grounds. It’s an awful thing to see, but sadly not too rare in the world of soccer.
Here’s the video: