Protests mar Israel’s Davis Cup joy

By James Martin, March 9, 2009

Israel has advanced to the quarter-finals of tennis’s most prestigious national team cup in a match that was overshadowed by violent political protests.

Israel’s joy at beating Sweden 3-2 and earning a tie with Russia in July, was tempered by the fact that violence erupted outside Malmo’s Baltic Arena during Saturday’s doubles match.

Riots outside the stadium saw rock-throwing protesters attempt to storm into the arena, with Swedish police forced to apprehend around 100 protesters.

There were 10 arrests on preliminary charges of rioting and assault. No injuries were reported.

The players were forced to play behind closed doors because the city’s authorities said they could not guarantee crowd safety. Only around 300 specially invited spectators were allowed to watch the match.

Former Australian Open quarter-finalist Shlomo Glickstein, who was part of the 1987 team, was angry that the protests were allowed to take place.

“It’s a great shame for Sweden that they couldn’t control the crowds.

“This protest should not have been allowed to happen as it’s obviously provocative to have a demonstration outside a stadium where a match is going on.

“It’s amazing that Israel was able to concentrate on the tennis.

“I believe that the captain Eyal Ran made sure that the players weren’t informed during the doubles, but they obviously found out afterwards.

“In the end Israel’s players dealt with the pressure amazingly well and it’s great that the team fought so hard and triumphed.”

Last updated: 5:17pm, March 9 2009