The Last Word / The ball is in the Knesset's court
I have no idea what really happened or didn't happen. Did referees and politicos have a hand in any misappropriation, or didn't they? The trouble is, it's not just me. No one knows, and the guesses people make are usually graver than the findings. Gossip knows no bounds.
Yet sometimes the mood is a fact that must be grappled with, and the public mood in basketball arenas is sour. A dark, heavy cloud currently hangs over them.
My recollections are my enemy, and perhaps not only mine. I suddenly recalled that the situation was exactly the same in the early 1970s, when Ehud Olmert and I were younger and more handsome, and were both in our first terms in the Knesset. One rumor followed another back then as well, and the impression grew that soccer pitches were tainted - it was almost impossible to see any green.
We didn't wait for anybody. We agreed that an investigation was a must. We talked, and we took action. We followed our noses and discovered the skunk; we followed the smoke and found fire, which almost consumed everything good about Israeli soccer.
No one authorized us to investigate. We authorized ourselves as members of the Knesset education and sports committee. And after we uncovered its shamefulness, there was no choice but to draw conclusions.
We froze the leagues in place - no promotions or relegations - and we levied fines against those we caught being corrupt and forbade them from every having a hand in the sport again.
It seems to me that we saved our soccer at the last moment before it completely rotted. Had we waited for the sports bodies themselves to do the work and do their public duty, we would pretty much still be waiting. Soccer would have been destroyed and disappeared, meanwhile, but the politicos would have stuck around.
Today as well, with basketball they won't get involved, as if they have no obligation to do a proper institutional inspection. They're afraid. What is this soluble material sitting on their head preventing them from going out into the sunlight, which we all know is the most effective disinfectant? We've never had a self-initiated investigative committee in this country, certainly not in sports.
The situation, thus, begs for external intervention. The Knesset must do the deed: The government needs to have its say. The government has a culture and sports minister in Limor Livnat who has the key in her hand. It is within her power to open the inner sanctum of the basketball world, go in and tell us what she sees. We have many decent people in this country who hold sports dear, who would be prepared to be her eyes. She meanwhile could be their mouthpiece, which is her strong suit. So why is she silent all of a sudden?
And if she doesn't enter, it could only be because she is hesitant. Would we ever manage to divine the intent of her hesitancy?
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