Two Israeli soccer players, Dor Micha and Omer Atzili, accused of statutory rape have been removed from the Maccabi Tel Aviv team effective immediately, their agent said Monday.
Agent Ronen Katzav said he had been informed by the team a week and a half ago and that the two players “were disappointed and saddened by the one-sided decision” but accepted it and would be seeking to reach a financial settlement with the team.
The two were suspended on June 13 due to being suspected of statutory rape, or having sex with a minor with their consent, and have not taken part in team activities since. The maximum penalty for such a crime is five years in prison. Both girls have testified to the police and the athletes have been questioned.
Sources close to the players told Haaretz that the players have proof the girls told them they were 17 years old. The players’ lawyers said the two did not commit any crime as they have unequivocal evidence to prove their story, which they will present to police in due time.
Last week, the two apologized for their behavior and expressed remorse for their involvement in the affair.
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The prosecution, which will determine the future of the case, passed it back to the police for the purpose of completing the investigation. But Maccabi Tel Aviv was not only interested in the criminal aspect but also in the image the case portrayed of the club. Therefore, Micha and Atzili will not return to the team even if their case is closed.
27-year-old Atzili joined Maccabi Tel Aviv in a four year contract in 2017 after a season in the Spanish league. Micha, 28, made his senior team debut in 2011 and has taken a significant part in the team winning six championships in the last nine years.