Sinai Says: Disproportionate punishment

Yes, Bachar made a mistake, but there's no need for this.

October 8, 2008 08:11
2 minute read.
Sinai Says: Disproportionate punishment

Allon sinai 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Barak Bachar could, in theory, be elected as the mayor of Kiryat Shmona or even as the prime minister of Israel. But he's not allowed to play for his county's national soccer team. By failing to complete his army service when he was a naive 18-year-old 11 years ago, the Ironi Kiryat Shmona defender became ineligible to play for Israel, according to a guideline the Israel Football Association came up with long ago. With soccer stars acting as such influential role models to youngsters, it's quite clear why the IFA feels that a full IDF service should be a basic requirement to play for the national team. There are, however, several fundamental problems with the IFA's stance. The first and most significant is that it violates the law of equality. Despite not serving in the army, Israeli Arabs play for the national team and so do nationalized players like Roberto Colautti. Now 29, Bachar was discharged by the IDF after he refused to serve in the Armored Corps, believing it would end his career as a professional soccer player. He was lawfully released from the army and shouldn't be denied the chance to be part of the national team because of some poor judgment as a teenager. Considering he can legally be named as the minister of defense, he should also have the opportunity of being named in the Israel squad. Ideally, all of the Israel players should serve in the IDF, but as terrible as you may think Bachar's early discharge is, the punishment he's receiving as a result is completely disproportionate and quite probably wouldn't stand a test of court. Bachar, who was part of the squad for an hour on Sunday before Kashtan realized his mistake and released him, was quoted as saying that the IFA is correct not to call up players that didn't complete their army service. The defender clearly has no interest in confronting the IFA and its populist regulation, especially knowing that players who were in a similar position to his in the past eventually came to an agreement with the IFA and were allowed to play for Israel after contributing a few hours of their time to community service. Bachar's decision to avoid a clash with Israel's soccer chiefs is understandable, but is also unfortunate. The IFA may believe it is doing the right thing, but it has taken the law into its hands and it's about time someone challenges this position and questions the IFA's authority to punish a player for something that is completely legal and has nothing to do with soccer.

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