(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin says he would like to see the appointment of a government as soon as possible after the Knesset elections, and intends to begin consultations immediately following the announcement of the final results.
He made the remark at his official residence on Thursday while launching the Shield of Honor, an award to be presented this year for the first time to the fan club of the Premier League soccer team that is judged to have made the most significant progress toward eliminating violence and racism on and off the field.
During the proceedings, the president gestured to the podium behind him and said that this was where the new government would assemble in a month’s time. A reporter subsequently asked him if he really believed that there would be a new government within a month.
“It’s not up to me, but we need one as soon as soon as possible,” he replied, adding that he was optimistic.
Rivlin answered to reporter’s question to the consternation of his spokeswoman – and may have been on the verge of making a political statement when she intervened.
In talking about violence and racism on the football field, he referred to the ugliness of the various parties’ election campaigns, which are being conducted with minimal mutual respect, if any.
During the Shield of Honor launch, Rivlin; retired judge Edna Bekenstein, who chairs the Council for the Prevention of Violence in Sport; Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini; Premier League chairman Yoram Baumann; and Toto chairman Tzachi Fishbein all spoke of the need to turn soccer into an educational tool that promotes love for the game, professionalism, excitement and mutual respect.
All said they were disturbed by the fact that games have been spoiled by minority groups of extremists inciting violence and racism, and called for more punitive measures against them.
Fishbein presented Rivlin, an ardent soccer enthusiast and a former chairman of Beitar Jerusalem, with a white Fan Number 1 jersey, with his name in big blue letters on the back.
After the formalities, the president went outside to referee a game with youngsters representing the 14 teams in the Premier League on a makeshift field set up on the lawns.
Rivlin kicked off the ball, and then, noticing that the players lacked a goalie, recruited former soccer star Bonni Ginzburg, who at 50 is still fit and trim, and proved to be as good as he ever was. Rivlin enjoyed being a referee and had great fun blowing his whistle.