AND SO Israel’s wait for a World Cup appearance is set to go on. Given the briefest glimpse of hope when it was suggested they should take Russia’s place at this summer’s tournament as the Russians should face expulsion for their actions in Crimea, FIFA, football’s world governing body, have now rejected that appeal. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke wrote to US Senators Mark Kirk and Dan Coats saying: “With regard to your reference to the principles of non-discrimination and stance against racism enshrined in article three of the FIFA statutes, please be informed that such statutes are applicable to and binding for members of FIFA, but not per se to entities outside the pyramidal structure of the game. Moreover we would like to point out that participation of representatives of FIFA’s member associations in the World Cup…is based on sporting merit and that only a violation of the FIFA statutes could lead to…the expulsion from a FIFA competition.” Senator Coats isn’t leaving it there though. He told the Jewish News: “FIFA suggests that outrageous behaviour by member states does not matter because such decisions are irrelevant to soccer. This argument is not supported by facts. Yugoslavia was banned from international competition in 1992 and 1994 because of its illegal behaviour during the Balkan wars. I continue to call for upon FIFA leadership to impose the same punishment on Russia.” Nice to see he’s not letting it go. Unfortunately, I can tell him now, he’s wasting his breath.
IT’S NOT often a footballer hits back at supporters after enduring 90 minutes of taunts and goading, but that did happen in Israel. After Maccabi Haifa slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by Bnei Sakhnin, Haifa defender Taleb Tawatha was walking back to his car after the match when he got into an ugly confrontation with Sakhnin fans. Unhappy with the unwanted attention, he went over to his car, opened the boot, removed a headrest from a seat, and threw it at them. As security men tried to calm him down, he then went back to his car for the jack, though was this time stopped by the officials. Tawatha wasn’t arrested, but reports suggest Sachnin fans plan to file a police complaint against him.