Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Training Center on Fire Hours before Game

Early Sunday morning, a fire severely damaged the training center of the Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer team. Fire officials have revealed that they suspect it was arson.

The club issued a statement in which it said that at around 3 a.m., CEO Liran Mokhtar had received a call from the police.

He had been called to the south Tel Aviv site, as the firefighters were trying to bring the fire under control.

The incident

According to the club, there is enormous damage, but they cannot provide an accurate estimate at this time.

Fans were also told to stay away because there were concerns that the building would collapse. Media reports revealed that fire officials believed the fire had been intentionally set.

CCTV footage had been shared by Hapoel Tel Aviv from the location with the police in order to assist with the investigation.

On Sunday night, Hapoel Tel Aviv is scheduled for a match in the capital against rival Beitar Jerusalem. But, reports claim that Hapoel has requested league administrators to postpone the match.

This is due to the fact that most of the equipment of the team has been destroyed in the blaze and if the league does not postpone, Hapoel is threatening to take the matter to court.

Later update

The league posted an update later, stating that the game would continue as planned as Hapoel did have the equipment required.

The league also called on supporters and players of both teams to behave respectfully. Earlier, Beitar Jerusalem had offered to assist their competitor in order to ensure the game continues as per schedule.

In recent years, Hapoel has been struggling a lot, even though it is Israel’s 13-time champion. Last week, an American group of investors purchased the club, headed by brothers David and Michael Mincberg.

They also have shares in Plymouth Argyle, the English soccer team. Politically, Hapoel Tel Aviv leans towards the left and is associated with the Histadrut labor federation.

A major number of fans participated in the anti-government protests that took place on Saturday evening. As for Beiter, its fan base is mostly right-wing, including prime ministers and presidents.

The criticism

However, a lot of negative attention has been directed towards the club because it is the only major club to not have an Arab player.

Almost 20% of the population in Israel is of Arab people and even though they are a minority, the national squad of the country and a number of rival teams have Arab players.

In the past, club officials have stated that a lot of personnel decisions are influenced by the far-right hardcore fan base due to which their hands are tied.

This includes La Familia, a small group of fans who have exhibited racist behavior even during matches. Dashcam footage had been shared widely in January 2022 on social media.

The footage showed masked supporters of Hapoel Tel Aviv attacking a car before a match in which two supporters of Jerusalem were sitting.

In 2013, Beitar had signed two Muslim soccer players and its own fans had set fire to the headquarters of the club in reaction.

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