It's been many years since I went to see a soccer game. Once I would go regularly, almost every Saturday, but I'm no longer interested in Israeli soccer, mainly because of the poor level. If theater in Israel, for example, were of such a low standard, far lower than in Europe, I wouldn't step into an Israeli theater hall.
This isn't the only reason for my abstention from soccer: I've been rehabilitated. For a long time I've had the nagging feeling that something is rotten on our soccer fields, and I've aired such feelings from time to time on these pages. When I see the sports supplements and view what is happening from afar, from home, I single-handedly reach the conclusion that soccer, more than any other sport, is in the hands of dubious characters. Suspicious characters pull the strings of a number of clubs, and the ties between coaches, players and administrators with the underworld are an open secret. Not every team owner is Yaakov Shahar, unfortunately.
In these circumstances, I have difficulty believing in the sporting purity of competition and the veracity of results. So why should I care about all this - after all, I ran away from political corruption.
There is one rule to game theory, and everyone knows it: Wherever there is illegal gambling involving lots of money, even legal gambling operates in the twilight zone. The loopholes attract criminals, and they come, encircling the clubs and even infiltrating them. Who in his right mind would want to get involved with this contaminated social environment - if not the greedy and racist - to invest enormous sums in questionable players and field insults from hot-headed, ungrateful fans. Only crazy people would - those seeking black holes for laundering needs, or those seeking legitimization and publicity.
I had exactly the same feeling 35 years ago, when together with Ehud Olmert I smelled the obnoxious odor wafting from the stable. We decided to clean it with an iron broom, long before Olmert turned his attention to private matters. We declared the Knesset Sports Committee a parliamentary investigatory commission, and its findings were truly nauseating. We mustered most Knesset members to keep the mosquitoes away from the swamp. For a moment it seemed that our efforts were successful. Only for a moment.
A long time has elapsed, and the stable has again been contaminated. Now a renewed deep-cleaning is needed. In the 1970s we didn't think the day would come when the chairman of the Israel Football Association would be questioned under caution.
To tell the truth, nowadays I have trouble identifying the public figures who would assume the mission because of their high standing and determination. The police have not yet registered any great achievements - the investigations always open to great fanfare then dissipate without a trace.
I hope I'll be proved wrong this time. I hope the disinfection and elimination will be done and be seen to be done, and soccer fans like me can return to the field.
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