Sinai Says: Luzon definitely not part of the solution

As long as embattled IFA chairman lingers around the local game, building a brighter future remains impossible.

Avi Luzon 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Avi Luzon 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Avi Luzon is not the devil he is often depicted to be.
It is unlikely the new Israel national team training complex at Shefayim would have been built without his support and the fact Israel will host the European Under-21 Championships in the summer of 2013 is undoubtedly the result of his political skills.
However, Luzon need not bother returning to his office at National Stadium in Ramat Gan at the start of next week once he finishes celebrating Israel’s independence with his family.
He might as well just mail in his letter of resignation.
Luzon should only shoulder part of the blame for the violent brawls that have marred Israeli soccer in recent weeks, but as long as he lingers around the local game, building a brighter future remains impossible.
Israeli soccer needs to be revolutionized and that cannot happen while Luzon is in charge.
He had five years as Israel Football Association chairman to better the local game, but he has now reached a sad situation where almost no one believes a single word which comes out of his mouth.
I hate to be comparing Luzon to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, but Luzon’s suggestion to bring about cosmetic changes while making panic-driven decisions is awfully reminiscent of Mubarak in his final days in power.
He has become so out of touch that after stunningly postponing the weekend’s matches in the top two divisions, Luzon believed he could brush aside his responsibility for matters spiraling out of control by naming a new president to the IFA High Court (something which was going to be done by June anyway) and announcing that he plans to set up an obscure committee.
He tried to spread the blame by revealing he had asked Jacob Shahar to head the new committee, but the Maccabi Haifa owner had no intention of tarnishing his reputation and quickly turned him down.
However, we should hardly be surprised with Luzon’s conduct. It’s not as if he ever truly grasped his duty as IFA chairman.
The fact the former Maccabi Petah Tikva boss fails to understand until this day why it was wrong to name his nephew Guy Luzon as the coach of the under-21 national team is a testament to how clueless he has always been regarding his obligations as chairman.
In his speech to the nation on Sunday night, Luzon said he understands there is an ethical standard he must meet as chairman, even though in his eyes he has done no wrong.
He went on to explain that the fact that he publically expresses his allegiance to Maccabi Petah Tikva from the stands and even attends its training sessions to boost player morale is completely acceptable behavior.
He pointed to the president of the German Bundesliga, Reinhard Rauball, who was seen wearing a scarf of his beloved club Borussia Dortmund during its championship celebrations on Saturday.
However, despite having days to prepare the most important speech of his life, Luzon got it all wrong by comparing himself to Rauball rather than his true counterpart in German soccer, FA chairman, Wolfgang Niersbach.
Rauball is the president of Dortmund, also holding the symbolic role of being Bundesliga president.
Clearly it is only natural for him to be cheering the club he still presides over.
Niersbach, on the other hand, wouldn’t be caught dead showing his loyalty to any club, understanding that would turn him into a joke and blemish any future decision he would make as DFB chief.
Luzon either doesn’t understand what he is doing wrong or he simply doesn’t give a damn.
Either option is just as bad.
Luzon can’t make the needed changes to Israeli soccer because he is clearly at least part of the problem.
It is the owners of the league’s clubs who need to unite forces and break away from the IFA to set up an independent body to run Israel’s two professional leagues, as is the case in most European countries.
The spotlight pointed at Israeli soccer following the recent on-field fights finally raises some hope that a reform is possible.
If Luzon has no intention of quitting and allowing someone else to rebuild the local game, than the clubs need to take the initiative.
At least 25 representatives from the 32 teams in the Premier League and the National League are expected to attend a first meeting to discuss the matter next week.
Ashdod SC’s Jacky Ben-Zaken is one of the new generation of owners fed up with being pawns at the hands of the primeval politically run sporting associations of Hapoel and Maccabi, which also control the IFA and determine its chairman.
He has threatened that clubs will refuse to open next season if nothing is done.
That seems unlikely to happen.
But the fact that someone like Ben-Zaken feels free to make such threats shows he no longer believes he has anything to lose, which is a requisite to any revolution.
Luzon has lost any little credibility he once had to run Israeli soccer.
If he refuses to relinquish power, the power needs to be taken out of his hands.
Israeli soccer deserves better.
Fans deserve to dream of a brighter future.
The time for change has arrived. A failure to seize the opportunity could lead to generations of regret.
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Follow Allon on Twitter: @AllonSinai