(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A pre-season friendly match between the Israeli Maccabi Haifa and French Lille OSC soccer teams in Bischofshofen, Austria, on Wednesday was interrupted when pro-Palestinian protesters burst onto the field and attacked the Israeli players.
Throughout the second half, the demonstrators—which included Turkish immigrants—cried out anti-Israel slogans. At the 85th minute of the game, they rushed the field and began beating the Maccabi Haifa players, including defender Dekel Keinan and midfielder Idan Vered. The players defended themselves, and goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, a Serb, pushed three of the protesters.
Security at the venue was in the hands of a small, unprepared team and a few police officers, who eventually managed to get the rioters under control. The French players fled the field for the locker room.
The riot didn’t end on the grass. Outside the field, another 10 or so pro-Palestinian protesters were waiting, trying to force their way in. They threw chairs and other objects at the Maccabi Haifa players, one of which hit striker Shimon Abuhatzira, who responded by charging the rioters.
After a few minutes, additional police officers arrived and escorted the Maccabi players back to their hotel. The team is currently under heavy security. “It was a miracle no one was injured,” one team member said.