Sinai Says: Nimni’s conflict of interest making waves

Former Maccabi Tel Aviv star shouldn't be serving as a professional consultant to players and a media analyst at the same time.

January 1, 2013 23:31
3 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv manager Avi Nimni

Avi Nimni 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)


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Avi Nimni seems to be everywhere these days.

Regardless of the Israeli sports channels you watch – of the Sport1 or Sport5 groups – you are bound to come across Nimni’s face, sooner rather than later.

The 40-year-old also writes a column every Friday for popular daily Yedioth Ahronoth and up until three weeks ago was part of Channel 1’s Monday night soccer panel.

But there’s a reason Nimni is no longer hired by the Israel Broadcast Authority.

And it has nothing to do with him being a mediocre analyst.

After over a year on Channel 1, the Maccabi Tel Aviv legend, who retired four years ago, was told his services were no longer required due to a conflict of interest.

Besides his flourishing media career, Nimni is also the professional consultant of the Nim-Group Sport Management (according to the group’s website), a budding sports agency officially set up last March.

Nimni, who also coached Maccabi between November 2008 and January 2011, is not a licensed players’ agent (the managing director of Nim Group, Guy Primor, is the one with the diplomas) and he signed a document stating so in order to continue his job with Channel 1.

However, following persistent pressure and a legal recommendation that Nimni can no longer work as a pundit, IBA CEO Yoni Ben-Menachem ordered the Channel 1 sports department to terminate its relationship with the former Israel international.

There is of course no reason to worry Nimni will go hungry any time soon.

Besides the millions he earned during his playing career and his success in the business world, he continues to work as an analyst on Israeli soccer matches on Sport1, as well as a panelist on Sport5’s popular talk-show Press Box, not to mention his newspaper column.

Being one of the most adored players in Israeli soccer history, it is little wonder Nimni’s services are in such high demand, although you would be hard-pressed to find many people who contribute regularly to both Sport1 and Sport5.

He may not be the most insightful of commentators, but he certainly isn’t the worst (a distinction Channel 1’s Danny Neuman earns time and again on a weekly basis).

Personally, I feel Nimni would not intentionally use his time on air and influence in the media to promote any of his many Nim Group clients.

But I couldn’t blame anyone for believing he does.

After all, what is the viewer supposed to think when Nimni selects one of his players as man-of-thematch as a supposedly unbiased expert the way he did two-and-a-half weeks ago with Hapoel Ramat Gan’s Israel Zaguri.

And it’s not that Zaguri didn’t deserve the recognition following the 2-2 draw with Hapoel Tel Aviv, he did.

But you can’t help but feel uncomfortable when it is coming from Nimni’s mouth.

That is of course if you are of the small minority who happen to keep track of the many players Nimni represents from almost every Premier League team, including the likes of Maccabi Tel Aviv stars Eliran Atar and Gal Alberman as well as Maccabi Haifa’s Hen Ezra and Hapoel Beersheba’s Aviram Bruchian.

The impressive client list Nimni has built in a short time proves he clearly has a lucrative career as an agent – excuse me – a professional consultant, ahead of him. He has also got a resume as impressive as any media analyst.

However, he shouldn’t be doing both.

If Nimni can’t come to that conclusion himself, his employers in Sport1, Sport5 and Yedioth Ahronoth should follow in the footsteps of Channel 1 and finally make what should have been a straightforward decision in the first place.

Either way, the current situation should not be allowed to continue.

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