Britain Kicks in Charges Against Israeli Soccer Players

Reversing an earlier decision, British officials have brought charges against three members of an Israeli soccer team for endangering airline safety.

Five members of the Hapoel Haifa soccer team were released from police custody in London on Sunday after being questioned about their alleged rowdy behavior on a July 3 Air UK flight from Germany to England.

Scotland Yard investigators said at the time of their release that they had found no proof to press charge against them.

But after speaking to airline staff, British police arrested three of the team members on Wednesday and ordered them to stay in England until the end of the proceedings.

According to the charge sheet, coach Avraham Grant and players Reuven Atar and Tal Benin had refused to sit down and fasten their seatbelts prior to landing, causing the plane to abort its first landing approach.

The plane later landed safely at Stansted Airport, northeast of London.

The team members maintained that the disturbance on the plane resulted from a derogatory remark a stewardess made about kosher food.

According to Grant, the team’s coach, the flight attendant responded to a request for kosher food by referred to the food as “disgusting.”

Grant said earlier in the week that he intended to sue the airline.

If Grant and the two players are found guilty of endangering aircraft safety, they could be fined some $640 to $3,200 each and face up to two years in jail.

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