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Ħamrun Spartans, Maccabi Haifa facing UEFA disciplinary action

Ħamrun Spartans goalkeeper Federico Marchetti removes a flare during the match against Maccabi Haifa. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Teams charged after crowd disturbances at Centenary Stadium

Ħamrun Spartans and Maccabi Haifa were charged by UEFA following the crowd trouble during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League, first qualifying round, first leg match that was played at the Centenary Stadium.

Scottish referee Donald Robertson was forced to stop the match twice after Maccabi Haifa fans hurled flairs during the match, provoking a great commotion between both sets of supporters.

The first incident happened in the first half when Maccabi Haifa fans threw flares on the pitch, forcing the referee to halt the match for a few minutes until the pitch was cleaned and calm was restored on the stands.

In the second half, things got even worse as Maccabi Haifa fans lit up flares a second time, provoking an angry response from the Ħamrun Spartans fans that were sitting a few metres away, who threw bottles of water and beer at the visitors’ area.

The Haifa fans responded by throwing two flairs in the Spartans section and it was here that referee Robertson stopped the match a second time and after consulting the UEFA Delegate, that made his way on the pitch, ordered the players off the pitch until the situation in the stands improved.

The match was halted for 25 minutes before referee Robertson and the UEFA Delegate decided that the match could continue and Maccabi went on to win the match 4-0.

In a statement, UEFA said that Maccabi Haifa were charged on four accounts, namely throwing objects, lighting of fireworks, acts of damage and crowd disturbances.

On the other hand, Ħamrun Spartans are also facing action as they have been accused of throwing objects and crowd disturbances.

UEFA said that its Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will examine the case and will decide on the matter in due course.

In the aftermath of the match, Ħamrun Spartans have sent an official letter to UEFA asking for the second leg, scheduled to be played on Tuesday in Israel, to be played in a neutral venue to ensure the safety of the Maltese contingent.

Ħamrun’s request for the match to be moved is based on two main premises – Tuesday’s incidents at Ta’ Qali and the political situation in Israel following clashes between Israelis and Palestinians not far off from Haifa.

The Spartans said that they reiterated with UEFA that should their request to move the second leg to a neutral country is not upheld, they would consider not honouring the second leg to safeguard their contingent.

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