IFA Chairman Avi Luzon has received dozens of supportive telephone calls from both the soccer world and the banking system in the past 48 hours after his name was mentioned in a match-fixing investigation. Luzon denies any allegations.
"Ever since I've been involved in Israeli soccer, they've been turning over every stone to find something against me," a friend yesterday quoted Luzon as saying.
"They can go on looking, as far as I'm concerned. I sleep well at night, but these are not pleasant times, even when you know for sure that you're clean. It's not pleasant to be subjected to a police interrogation, but I'll get over it. No one can compete with me in terms of honesty, fairness and public service. I'll continue to do what I know how to do to the best of my abilities, and hope the police do their job. Wherever there is corruption in Israeli soccer or Israeli society, it should be flushed out."
The Israel Football Association's management committee will meet on Monday to approve a compromise proposal by Luzon and his deputy Haluba Shtern to shrink the Premier league to 14 teams and cancel the midseason points-reduction system beginning in two years. At the meeting, the committee members are expected to voice their support for Luzon.
Luzon flew to Denmark yesterday to watch the final of the European Under-21 Championship final. He declined to comment about the police's treatment of him during Wednesday's two-hour questioning, though at the end of the investigation he intends to speak openly about the police's behavior.
Luzon's associates who spoke with him say that despite the unpleasant experience, he's in good spirits.
At a press conference yesterday, IFA chief executive Ori Shilo criticized the police and media's behavior in the case. "If you want information from the IFA chairman, there are more polite and honorable ways of doing it," he said. "I know Avi well. He's an honest man whom no dirt can stick to. I have no doubt that the whole issue surrounding Avi Luzon will be over soon."
Shilo predicted that the investigation will not affect the opening of the next Premier League season. "Our interest is exactly the same as the police's," he said. "We all want soccer to be clean, pure and legal. The IFA is strong - there aren't many organizations as transparent and well-run."
The IFA plans a series of meetings with its legal advisers to design a way to block unsavory characters from becoming involved with teams in the future, including tightening fiscal control of club finances and setting financial parameters for anyone who intends to invest in a team.