HAVING failed to qualify for a football World Cup for more than 40 years on the pitch, it seems as if Israel may have found a back route into this summer’s tournament in Brazil. US senators have written to FIFA, demanding Russia are expelled from the competition as punishment for its takeover of Crimea. And if Sepp Blatter grants them their wish, Eli Guttman would be leading Yossi Benayoun et al to the Copacabana, as Israel finished behind them in third spot in their qualifying campaign. And if all this seems slightly far-fetched, there is a precedent. Yugoslavia was thrown out of the 1992 European Championships as a result of the Balkan crisis. They were replaced by Denmark, who as we all know went onto win the competition. Could lightning strike twice?
SHOULD Israel get their golden ticket to Brazil, it could be quite an exciting summer of football after Real Madrid announced they’ll be visiting Israel to hold a week-long camp for young Israeli athletes. Due to take place in the southern city of Ashkelon, a statement from the club said Israelis aged between 7-17 will have the opportunity to train with some of the world’s best coaching teams in the presence of top talent scouts. Ashkelon Mayor Shimoni said: “Thousands of people will come to Ashkelon this summer to enjoy the camp – young soccer players and their parents, the Real Madrid team, tourists and others”.
IF JEWISH tennis is your thing, Florida was the place to be where no fewer than nine players from five countries were competing at the Sony Open. Shahar Peer, Dudi Sela and Julia Glushko made up the Israeli contingent, and they were alongside Americans Wayne Odesnik, Michael Russell and Scott Lipsky, Canadian Sharon Fichman, Argentine Diego Schwartzman and Italian Camila Giorgi. Peer, who said: “I love coming to the Sony Open, feeling like I am in Israel with a lot of support from my fans. I am always eager to play my best and hopefully improving my ranking”, fell at the first round, on the plus side it was to Fichman.