Yossi Benayoun has said Israeli football supporters should ‘go home and look in the mirror’ after a group of them subjected him to a torrent of boos every time he touched the ball during their World Cup qualifying defeat to Albania on Sunday.
Appearing as a 67th minute substitute, with the Israelis already trailing 3-0, Benayoun, who was making a record 99th appearance for his country, was roundly booed by local Maccabi Haifa supporters, following his departure to Maccabi Tel Aviv last summer.
Speaking to reporters after the match, he said: “I’m embarrassed for those who booed me. I’m not surprised by anything in Israeli soccer. I saw it coming. Everyone knows whose fans they are. They should go home and look themselves in the mirror.”
Bibras Natcho believed the side’s poor performance was affected by the behaviour of those fans. The midfielder, who played the full 90 minutes on Sunday evening, said: “We were really hurt by the fans that booed Benayoun, Yossi is the greatest Israeli soccer player of all time and if people don’t know how to respect him something must be flawed in our culture.
“I don’t think those fans deserve a player like Benayoun. It was disgraceful. All the players heard it.”
Speaking about the performance, which leaves them tied on 9 points and n third place with Albania, he said: “We’re all extremely disappointed.
“We should have at least made sure we lost 2-0 so that we would own the head-to-head tiebreaker. This was a very painful defeat.”