IN THE wake of Nicolas Anelka’s much-publicised quenelle gesture, the punishment for which is still to be handed out by the FA, Chelsea this week confirmed the signing of Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah. This is a guy who when playing for his former side Basel, refused to shake the hands of the Maccabi Tel Aviv players when they faced them in a Champions League qualifier last July, check our website for the footage. He was also quoted as telling reporters prior to the second leg of the tie in Tel Aviv: “In my thoughts I am going to play in Palestine and not Israel, and I am also going to score and win there. The Zionist flag won’t be shown in the Champions League.” He has since denied saying this. While there has rightly been public outcry over Anelka’s antics, the actions of Salah have almost been swept under the carpet. Since becoming a Chelsea player, there’s been a lot of sympathy in the British media for him with people saying he was young at the time (it was only six months ago) and under immense pressure from people in his homeland to not shake hands with an Israeli. While there may be some truth in that, where are those people now? Did they have a problem with him shaking hands with Chelsea’s Jewish owner Roman Abamovich as he put pen to paper on his lucrative five-year deal? He’s certainly got the benefit of the doubt on this one.
FRESH from given a two-year extension as manager of the Israeli football team and saying how he aims to guide the country to the 2016 European Championships, Eli Guttman moved a step closer to learning the task that awaits him after UEFA released the pots for the qualification process. Seeded in Pot 3, a nightmare draw for the Israelis could see them pitted against Spain, Belgium, Turkey, Montenegro, Macedonia and Malta. They could on the other hand be drawn into a group consisting of Greece, Ireland, Estonia, Albania and Gibraltar. Talk about the luck of the draw.