Sinai Says: Blatter backing boosts under-fire Luzon

IFA boss Avi Luzon warmly embraced Blatter at the end of their joint press conference in Jerusalem and for good reason.

July 9, 2013 23:37
2 minute read.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter

FIFA President Sepp Blatter 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Buholze)


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Sepp Blatter may have thought that the objective of his four-day trip to the Middle East was to end Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian soccer players and officials.

After all, that was the mandate given to the Swiss bureaucrat by the 63rd FIFA Congress held in May.

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However, his visit mainly served an entirely different purpose.

Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon warmly embraced Blatter at the end of their joint press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday and for a good reason.

After coming under fire on Monday by the Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat and the committee she set up to review the inner workings of Israeli soccer, Luzon couldn’t have hoped for a stronger vote of confidence than the one he received from Blatter on Tuesday.

The Livnat-appointed committee, headed by former Ministry of Finance Accountant General, Yaron Zelicha, called for the resignation of Luzon, claiming that a conflict of interest involving his affiliation with Maccabi Petah Tikva leaves him unfit to head the IFA.

Luzon responded in a calm manner in a written press release on Monday, but with Blatter sitting by his side, listening to his every word via a translator, he lashed out at Livnat and her committee in a far more typical style.

“This is being depicted as a personal battle between Limor Livnat and Avi Luzon, but no one will ever interfere with the elections for the IFA chairman,” Luzon said.

“Zelicha said that the IFA is rotten. His brain is what is rotten. The IFA has undergone every inspection and no one has found any wrong-doing in its actions. You can’t just slur us like that.”

However, as important as it was for Luzon to vent his frustrations, it was Blatter’s words which really brought a smile to his face on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to make any threats, but I have to say that if such a report will be accepted and implemented, than this federation will face difficulties,” said Blatter of the Zelicha report. “Not just a suspension of the national team but also of all the club teams. This is not a yellow card. It’s just a warning that if such a thing would happen we would have no other alternative than to do that because our statures are very clear.”

After such backing from one of the most powerful people in world sport, it is hardly surprising that Luzon quickly spoke up and thanked Blatter for his support in an embarrassing manner.

“Livnat said that she won’t force any change on the IFA because she understands that she can’t,” Luzon gloated.

“I don’t think that anyone would dare to interfere after Blatter’s unequivocal support. Blatter is Israeli soccer’s best ambassador in the world.”

That may well be so. He is certainly the best advocate Luzon could have ever wished for. Surely Luzon hasn’t mixed up the two?

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