Eran Zahavi has played his last match for the Israel national team after announcing his retirement from international action last night following a rocky day..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Eran Zahavi announced his retirement from the Israel national team on Sunday evening. His decision capped a tumultuous 20 hours that began when he flung the captain’s armband in protest for being booed by local fans during the 1-0 defeat to Macedonia in 2018 World Cup qualifying action in Haifa on Saturday night.
Only 11,350 fans bothered to come to the Haifa stadium to watch Israel try and snap a twomatch losing streak and remain tied with Albania in the battle for third place in Group G.
After Macedonia – which lost five of its previous six qualifiers, only beating lowly Liechtenstein – took the lead through Goran Pandev in the 73rd minute, Zahavi was singled out by part of the fans in the stadium who were looking for a target to vent their frustrations.
It didn’t take long for the Guangzhou R&F striker to lose his cool, with Zahavi ripping the captain’s armband from his arm and tossing it aside when he couldn’t contain his anger any longer.
Zahavi said after the match that he apologizes to the people who “love” him, but said he saw no reason to say he is sorry to “the fans that were at the stadium and that he doesn’t even regret what happened.”
Less than two hours after the match, the Israel Football Association announced that he is suspended indefinitely and he didn’t fly out with the team to Italy on Sunday afternoon ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Reggio Emilia.
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev released a statement attacking Zahavi for “trouncing the values by which we try to educate future generations” and the IFA was believed to have been planning on handing the player a one-year suspension.
Zahavi, who didn’t manage to translate his club form to the international level in his 39 appearances during which he scored seven goals, had no intention of waiting for others to decide his future and declared on Instagram that he will not play for the Israel national team again.
“After a day of much thinking, conversations with my family and the people who have accompanied me throughout my career, I’d like to spare everyone all the committees, commentaries, columns and the unfair trials I am being put through,” Zahavi wrote. “I decided to go with what I feel is right, it is important for me that people know I always gave my all to the national team, I would like to announce my retirement from the national team!” Zahavi quits Israel national team amidst armband scandal Eran Zahavi has played his last match for the Israel national team after announcing his retirement from international action last night following a rocky day.