Former Israel Football Association chairman Itzhak “Iche” Menahem passed away on Wednesday morning, losing his battle with cancer. He was 75 years old.
Menahem served as the IFA ’s chairman for four years between 2003 and 2007 and was also a former player at Hapoel Tel Aviv, making 72 appearances for the club between 1956 until his retirement in 1962.
During his time as IFA chairman, he worked tirelessly to fight the UEFA decision which forced the Israel national team and local clubs to host games abroad due to the Second Intifada.
In one instance, in August 2006, when the ban was reimposed, Menahem sent a stern letter to UEFA questioning the motives and logic of moving the matches away from Tel Aviv.
“This decision has a clear scent of political interest and implies a bow before pressure imposed by Europe’s big clubs, a surprising fact in light of UEFA ’s policy of equality and Fair Play,” Menahem wrote.
Current IFA chairman, Avi Luzon, eulogized Menahem. “Iche, my friend and partner for many years, was a man who was best known for the eternal smile on his face,” wrote Luzon. “He was a man who conveyed warmth, caring and boundless optimism. Iche was also a big fighter, on the pitch and off it. During his time as IFA chairman he fought for the right of the national team and the Israeli clubs to host their home matches in the country. He won and brought the smile back to all of our faces. The IFA will find the deserving way in which to honor Menahem’s contribution.”