Three Maccabi Haifa soccer club fans who arrived in Strasbourg, France, ahead of a the Europa League match Thursday night between Haifa and the local club, were attacked by six or seven locals late Wednesday night, Israel Hayom reported. The Haifa fans did not sustain serious injuries, but a member of their team’s security filed a complaint with the police.
One of the three Israelis, who were not wearing their team’s shirts or paraphernalia at the time of the attack, told Israel Hayom the assailants demanded to see their passports and their phones, to check out their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Then they shouted that we were Maccabi Haifa. We told them we were just tourists, but really quickly they started slapping us, throwing chairs and hitting, and punching us in the face. Some of the locals got up to get them off us and they ran away. We’re really worried about what will happen next, and we don’t know if we’ll be at the game.”
Strasbourg hosts Maccabi Haifa for the second round of the Europa League, which starts today, Thursday, at 8:45 PM local time. Even before the Wednesday attack, Strasbourg police issued extremely restrictive instructions to the fans of Maccabi Haifa, warning them not to bring Israeli flags into the Mino des Champions de France stadium in Strasbourg. Police also limited the number of Israeli fans permitted to enter the stadium to 600.
Israeli Ambassador Aliza Ben Nun condemned the orders, calling them unacceptable.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz instructed the Israeli embassy in France to take immediate steps to remove the restrictions imposed on the fans, and said he expected to see “many fans waving many flags tonight at the stadium.”