Sinai Says: How pride and ego prevented progression

Guy Levy will guide Israel's Under-21 team for the last time on Wednesday in its European Championship qualifier.

soccer ball 88 (photo credit: )
soccer ball 88
(photo credit: )
Guy Levy will guide Israel's Under-21 team for the last time on Wednesday in its European Championship qualifier against Moldova at National Stadium in Ramat Gan. On the face of it ,the previous sentence sounds completely normal, but the truth of the matter is that it's utterly absurd. Even though the U21 team will have two qualifiers remaining after Wednesday and will have a good chance of progressing to a second straight European Championship should it defeat Moldova, Levy will be leaving the team in the summer and will not be at the helm for the last two matches against Luxembourg and Germany in September. You, rightfully, may be asking yourselves why Levy, who led the side to an historic European Championship last summer, isn't getting a chance to at least end what has so far been a pretty good campaign. The answer is as always anything but straightforward and illustrates yet again the poor judgment that prevents Israeli soccer from making any real progress. Traditionally the Israel Football Association hands its coaches contracts which end in the summer. Usually, that would be the sensible thing to do as most qualifying campaigns start in August or September. In Levy's case, however, nobody took into consideration the fact that the Euro 2009 qualifiers will end in September and, in 2004, offered him a contract that ends at the most crucial point of the qualifying campaign. Not all the blame, however, should be shouldered by former IFA chief Itzhak "Itchi" Menahem and his staff. Current IFA chairman Avi Luzon can correct the blunder by offering Levy at least a short extension to his contract and let him end the qualifying campaign. Sadly, however, pigs will fly before that happens. Luzon and national team coach Dror Kashtan have clashed with Levy time and again over the last year and both will not be shedding any tears when the U21 coach finally walks out of the IFA headquarters for the last time. Kashtan and Levy had numerous disagreements over which team should have priority in calling up players ahead of last summer championships, and Luzon backed Kashtan getting his way each time. The final straw for Luzon, however, came last August when Levy asked to be released from his contract to go and coach Maccabi Tel Aviv. Luzon was outraged by the coach's request to leave the U21 side two weeks before the start of the qualifying campaign and told him that if he wanted to go he would have to resign. Levy had no intention of quitting and declared that he will remain with the team until the end of his contract, but not a day longer. In any case, Luzon wasn't planning to offer Levy any sort of extension after the fall out, bringing the fiasco to its current situation. Levy has since said that he will not rule out staying with the team should he receive an offer, but Luzon never followed up on the coach's change of mind. The IFA chairman will not forgive Levy for his behavior last summer, costly as it may be to the U21's hopes of advancing. Pride and ego prevent any resolution of the current stalemate, leaving Israeli soccer to suffer once again from its chiefs' ridiculous decisions and lack of common sense. [email protected]