Sinai Says: Luzon, IFA drop the ball badly

Once known as just the most depressing association in Israeli sport, Avi Luzon has now turned the IFA into even more of a laughing stock.

Maccabi TA soccer 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi TA soccer 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
There was an air of optimism at the Israel Football Association headquarters on March 18 of last year. Avi Luzon had just entered his position as IFA chairman and there was a real hope that he might shake up the incompetent bureaucratic body. Fifteen months later, we can now say that Luzon did indeed change the IFA. Once known as just the most depressing association in Israeli sport, Luzon has now turned the IFA into even more of a laughing stock. The former chairman of Maccabi Petah Tikva was supposed to stop the rot, but in the last two weeks he has completely lost any remaining credibility he still may have had after the lackluster start to his tenure. There were concerns over Luzon's strong connection with Maccabi Petah Tikva when he was first appointed, but even his biggest critics couldn't foresee his remarkable tirade following the club's final match of the season on the last day of May. Minutes after Petah Tikva survived in the Premier League by the skin of its teeth thanks to a 1-0 victory over Maccabi Herzliya, Luzon lashed out at all the "evil people" who wanted his club to get relegated. Obviously, completely forgetting that he is the man in charge of Israeli soccer as a whole, Luzon totally lost control and proved once and for all that he is first and foremost a Petah Tikva fan, rather than an impartial league administrator. One would think that in the aftermath of his embarrassing outburst Luzon would keep a low profile for a while, but just five days later he was once more the talk of the town, and not for any good reason. Luzon's deputy Shtern Haluba revealed that Avi's nephew, Guy, is set to become the new Israeli national youth coach. Luzon immediately denied any connection to the decision and even claimed that he would resign should Guy be appointed against his wishes. It is, however, difficult to believe that the chairman had no idea that his nephew was going to be appointed to one of the most important positions in the IFA. The youth coach is in charge of the development of Israel's most talented youngsters and his appointment is one of the more significant decisions the chairman gets to make. The Movement for Quality Government immediately announced that the appointment qualifies as nepotism and that it would fight against it in the High Court of Justice should it go ahead. The negative public reaction gave Luzon and the IFA no choice but to backpedal from their its decision, with Guy also announcing on Tuesday that he has no intention of taking the job even if it should be offered to him. Despite this, the last two weeks have tainted Luzon's tenure as IFA chairman beyond repair. The optimism of 15 months ago has quickly faded away, leaving soccer fans feeling bitterly pessimistic with regard to the remainder of Luzon's term.