Luzon’s controversial appointment as U21 coach finalized

Despite criticism, appointment was a foregone conclusion.

u21 soccer 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
u21 soccer 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
Despite all the criticism of the blatant nepotism, Guy Luzon was named on Wednesday as the new Israel under-21 coach.
Luzon’s appointment was a foregone conclusion long ago, with his uncle Avi Luzon, the chairman of the Israel Football Association, pushing for his nephew to be given one of the most prestigious positions in Israeli soccer.
In a secret ballot held at IFA headquarters at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Wednesday, 24 of the 29 IFA Management members voted for Luzon, whose first match in charge will be a Euro 2011 qualifier at Sweden on September 3.
Israel, which will complete its qualifying campaign four days later at home against Montenegro, is currently in third position in Group 6, six points behind first-placed Sweden and three points from Montenegro.
The 10 group winners and the four runners-up with the best record will advance to the playoffs for a place in the finals in Denmark next June.
Considering he will only turn 35 on Saturday, Luzon has an impressive resume.
He experienced six successful seasons at Maccabi Petah Tikva, the club owned by his extended family, taking the team to the UEFA Cup group stage in the 2005/06 season after finishing in second position in the Premier League the previous year.
After six difficult months at Hapoel Tel Aviv at the start of the 2007/08 season, Luzon, who will be replacing Moti Ivanir as the U21 coach, resurrected his career at Bnei Yehuda in the past couple of campaigns, taking the side to the State Cup final last season.
However, it was his family connection with the IFA chairman that infuriated so many.
Avi Luzon announced months ago that he will sit out the vote, but the IFA’s legal advisor Moshe Avivi still decided to call for a special committee to be formed so that the IFA Management would at least be given a choice of several candidates.
Eyal Berkovic, Gili Landau and Michel Dayan as well as Luzon were eventually nominated by the committee, but there was always only going to be one winner.
“I came because I didn’t want to humiliate the IFA,” said Berkovic as he entered the National Stadium. “But everyone knows what will happen here today.”