A century ago in No Man’s Land on the Western Front, a soccer game broke out during a war. Yesterday in Austria, a war broke out during a soccer game.
In the second half of a match between Maccabi Haifa and Lille Olympique Sporting Club played in Austria, a mob of young Turks turned the playing field into a battlefield. The invasion occurred in the 85th minute of play.
The horde kicked, punched, carried flags, and swore at bewildered Israeli players. The current hostilities between the Israeli military and Hamas served as the stated rationale for turning a scheduled football match into an unsanctioned boxing match.
The preseason friendly became unfriendly rather suddenly, and startlingly, in the final minutes. Security did not react so quickly to the violence. Several of the athletes accustomed to using their feet employed their hands to good effect in fending off the angry assailants before the authorities restored order. The Daily Mail reports that Maccabi Haifa coach Aleksandar Stanojevic slugged one of the trespassers.
The Jerusalem Post‘s Allon Sinai reports that the anti-fans waved Palestinian and Turkish flags in non sequitur fashion during the match between teams from Israel and France in Austria. Stadium-goers displayed a Star of David national standard painted over with the words “F— Israel.” Sinai noted that the politicized soccer hooligans waited for Maccabi Haifa to leave the stadium, requiring a delayed departure under protective escort.
The game, an afterthought once the killjoys crashed the field, ended prematurely with Lille ahead 2-0.