Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat picture.
(photo credit: Meged Gozni)
A government-appointed committee recommended a shakeup of Israeli soccer on Monday, calling for the resignation of Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon.
The committee, set up in May by the Minister of Culture and Sport, Limor Livnat, was headed by former Ministry of Finance Accountant General, Yaron Zelicha, and was asked to review the inner workings of Israeli soccer.
Livnat presented the committee’s 12 main recommendations on Monday and demanded Luzon step down as IFA chairman.
“This is a fundamental and ethical matter,” said Livnat. “A man with a conflict of interests cannot be the head of the association.”
Luzon served as the chairman of Maccabi Petah Tikva prior to his appointment with the IFA and continues to attend the club’s matches as a fan.
The committee also called for the Toto’s financial support to be transferred directly to the clubs and not via the IFA, while proposing that the new body set up by club owners to run the Premier League is managed completely independently from the IFA.
“We all have a joint interest that Israeli soccer will be run transparently and efficiently,” said Livnat. “I set up this committee due to the lack of trust between soccer fans and the IFA and that lack of trust still exists.”
Luzon claimed that the IFA has already begun implementing many of the recommendations made by the committee, which also included soccer coaches Ze’ev Seltzer and Yitzhak Schum, former player and current Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball marketing CEO Eli Driks, former Income Tax Commissioner Tali Eldar, former Tel Aviv district attorney, Ruth David, former assistant to State Comptroller of Israel, Nadav Asael, IFA Regulations Update Committee chairwoman Dr. Dana Pugach, accountants Avishai Ovadia and Roei Shemesh and Uri Shefer, director of the Israeli Sport Administration.
“The IFA will study the report and implement any conclusion which can promote Israeli soccer,” Luzon said in an IFA press release.
“Zelicha’s choice of the word ‘rotten’ to describe the IFA is strange as the IFA has undergone every possible inspection over the past year, including by the state comptroller, and no one found any wrongdoing in its actions.”
During Monday’s press conference, Livnat and Haaretz journalist Moshe Boker had a heated exchanged of words after which the latter was removed from the room.
Boker claimed that Livnat and other members of the committee have a conflict of interest and are only after Luzon’s head.
Livnat accused Boker of lying and a lack of objectivity, claiming that he works for Luzon just like his former editor, Shlomi Barzel, who left the newspaper to head the IFA’s communications department earlier this month.