Sinai Says: Nimni’s conflict of interest making waves
By ALLON SINAI
Former Maccabi Tel Aviv star shouldn't be serving as a professional consultant to players and a media analyst at the same time.
Avi Nimni seems to be everywhere these days.
Regardless of the Israeli
sports channels you watch – of the Sport1 or Sport5 groups – you are bound to
come across Nimni’s face, sooner rather than later.
The 40-year-old also
writes a column every Friday for popular daily Yedioth Ahronoth and up until
three weeks ago was part of Channel 1’s Monday night soccer panel.
there’s a reason Nimni is no longer hired by the Israel Broadcast
And it has nothing to do with him being a mediocre
After over a year on Channel 1, the Maccabi Tel Aviv legend, who
retired four years ago, was told his services were no longer required due to a
conflict of interest.
Besides his flourishing media career, Nimni is also
the professional consultant of the Nim-Group Sport Management (according to the
group’s website), a budding sports agency officially set up last
Nimni, who also coached Maccabi between November 2008 and January
2011, is not a licensed players’ agent (the managing director of Nim Group, Guy
Primor, is the one with the diplomas) and he signed a document stating so in
order to continue his job with Channel 1.
However, following persistent
pressure and a legal recommendation that Nimni can no longer work as a pundit,
IBA CEO Yoni Ben-Menachem ordered the Channel 1 sports department to terminate
its relationship with the former Israel international.
There is of course
no reason to worry Nimni will go hungry any time soon.
millions he earned during his playing career and his success in the business
world, he continues to work as an analyst on Israeli soccer matches on Sport1,
as well as a panelist on Sport5’s popular talk-show Press Box, not to mention
his newspaper column.
Being one of the most adored players in Israeli
soccer history, it is little wonder Nimni’s services are in such high demand,
although you would be hard-pressed to find many people who contribute regularly
to both Sport1 and Sport5.
He may not be the most insightful of
commentators, but he certainly isn’t the worst (a distinction Channel 1’s Danny
Neuman earns time and again on a weekly basis).
Personally, I feel Nimni
would not intentionally use his time on air and influence in the media to
promote any of his many Nim Group clients.
But I couldn’t blame anyone
for believing he does.
After all, what is the viewer supposed to think
when Nimni selects one of his players as man-of-thematch as a supposedly
unbiased expert the way he did two-and-a-half weeks ago with Hapoel Ramat Gan’s
And it’s not that Zaguri didn’t deserve the recognition
following the 2-2 draw with Hapoel Tel Aviv, he did.
But you can’t help
but feel uncomfortable when it is coming from Nimni’s mouth.
That is of
course if you are of the small minority who happen to keep track of the many
players Nimni represents from almost every Premier League team, including the
likes of Maccabi Tel Aviv stars Eliran Atar and Gal Alberman as well as Maccabi
Haifa’s Hen Ezra and Hapoel Beersheba’s Aviram Bruchian.
client list Nimni has built in a short time proves he clearly has a lucrative
career as an agent – excuse me – a professional consultant, ahead of him. He has
also got a resume as impressive as any media analyst.
shouldn’t be doing both.
If Nimni can’t come to that conclusion himself,
his employers in Sport1, Sport5 and Yedioth Ahronoth should follow in the
footsteps of Channel 1 and finally make what should have been a straightforward
decision in the first place.
Either way, the current situation should not
be allowed to continue.