Sports pages were filled with indignation after Israel's tie with Switzerland on Saturday. Their stars let them down again, but the papers took part in their own deception, which is one of the reasons they are so angry. Nothing incurs people's wrath more than being upset with themselves; no mixture is more flammable than shame and disgrace. How could we have fallen for the same trick for the thousandth time?
How were we seduced into believing that "this time it can happen," that "it's now or never"? Anyone who has ever seen Israeli soccer knows this well: It won't happen this time or the next. Our soccer is beyond repair. Israel's lazy and spoiled players act like they've just arrived from Switzerland and can't adjust to the heat. They're ruined by fame and corrupted by money. They realized a long time ago that they can cover up their losses and present ties as victories. Occasionally, some three wise monkey-like analysts shall see, hear and speak of the evil, but will stick to their regular chorus. And the World Cup seems as long and winding an affair as ever.
We cannot but thank the Swiss, who in one fell swoop severed us from our delusions. This was euthanasia on the Sabbath. Instead of perpetuating the suffering, instead of going through a year of false hope, we've been rid of our long and pointless agony in the very first match at home. True, the lucky last-minute draw will allow the diehards to hold on to the dream, but in our hearts we all know it's a lost cause. Come the next World Cup, the dream will still be distant.
Team Israel, which was recently ranked 19th in the world, took to the pitch full of pride and left full of shame after tying the match with Switzerland, which is ranked 42nd.
Someone more extreme than me might suggest barring Israel from participating in international encounters. We'll play among ourselves: Beitar versus Hapoel and Maccabi; Netanya and Ashdod versus Sakhnin. That way we'll spare ourselves a lot of sorrow and shame.
For the time being I have refrained from supporting such a proposal lest we disperse a squad already torn apart. Also on Saturday, Turkey played Armenia. I have no idea what the score was, but in any case it was a good one: These two countries, who hate each other, finally held an event that permitted a meeting between their presidents. What they could not achieve for years, soccer achieved for them.
Who knows, maybe the day will come when the Israeli team plays against Syria and President Shimon Peres will meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad. I'm not familiar with Syrian soccer, but even if we lose that encounter we'll probably still emerge winners.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now