We’ve seen some brutal acts on the field this season, but the beating Hapoel Haifa midfielder Ali Khatib took at Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday night is up there with the worst of them.
The match finished on a high for hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva who, after trailing 1-nil in the first half, saw Danny Freda plant home a sweet 90th minute free-kick to swing the match and the points. Joy however quickly turned to viciousness, as immediately after the final whistle the players went at each other.
Amid many ugly and nasty scenes that lead to three red cards, Ali Khatib’s assault was the standout shocker.
With pockets of unrest playing out all over the field, Maccabi Petah Tikva goalie coach Ami Ganiv, unprovoked and without any cause, marched over to Khatib and slammed a brutal headbutt into his face.
Then came the more stomach-turing moment as Yigal Mamon – a high ranking employee at Petah Tikva – kicked Khatib in the head when his was floored. (TV footage is yet to surface of the kicking.)
Khatib lost consciousness , teeth and had his jaw fractured in his assault. “I felt a blow to the head,” said Khatib in hospital. “I fell on the grass and I do not remember anything. I saw black. I’ve suffered great pain, I hope it will be okay.”
Police detained both Ganiv and Mamon immediately, but already two sides of the story have spilled out.
Mamon is claiming “I did not kick him, he kicked my leg! I was trying to separate the fight. I know how to behave on the field.” Hapoel Haifa’s Michael Zanberg however tells a different story. “I saw the whole thing. Ali was lying on the floor when a man from Petah Tikva came over and kicked him twice. It was brutal and viscous.”