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Israeli players attacked during training match

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Israeli players attacked during training match
Maccabi Haifa players. File photo: APA/Krug
09:22 CEST+02:00
Pro-Palestinian protesters have disrupted a football match in Bischofshofen, Austria between the Israeli club, Maccabi Haifa, and French team, Lille.

The game - a pre-season friendly in the state of Salzburg - was interrupted when around 20 protesters waving Palestinian flags stormed the pitch, police said.

The protesters tried to attack Yossi Benayoun, Maccabi Haifa’s captain, as well as other members of the squad.

 

One player was spat on, while the coach entered the pitch to protect his players.

Officials called time on the match at the 86th minute. The police said no-one was hurt in the incident.

The players left the dressing room - under protection - an hour after the match ended because some protesters had remained outside the stadium. Nobody was arrested. 

Maccabi Haifa released a statement regarding the incident. "We experienced an uncomfortable atmosphere of violence on the pitch and in the stands. The attack was premeditated and dangerous in light of the incitement in Turkish media. [The protesters] were mostly Turkish immigrants."

Maccabi Haifa has several Muslim players in its squad. The club told the Jerusalem Post that it believes in "co-existence and tolerance."

"We condemn the violence that was used against us. This happened not because of sports or football, but because we are a team that represents Israel."

Israel launched a military offensive on July 8th with the declared objective of stopping rocket fire from Gaza.

At least 649 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers, plus three Israeli civilians, have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting, officials say.

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz condemned the attack against Maccabi Haifa.

"I demand a full investigation of these incidents. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, because in Austria there should be absolutely zero tolerance for religious or anti-Semitic violence," he said in a statement. 

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