Bird's Eye View / A Meaningless Championship

It's really no longer important who is champion. Israeli soccer is not only inferior but corrupt in its character.

There's no need for a conspiracy theory or paranoia. Everything was put out on the pitch for everyone to see. True, there's no evidence of anyone throwing a game for money. When you're giving it away, there's no need for payment, and the players can just stand around like practice cones.

Even my wife, for whom soccer is terra incognita, after glancing at the television broadcast of last week's Maccabi Tel Aviv-Maccabi Haifa match, concluded, "These yellow players don't look like they're trying to hard against the green players."

Did Dorit see from here, our home, what commentators didn't see from there, the stands in Bloomfield? Is she innocently saying what they don't want or dare to say?

Do they have eyes but no sight, ears but no hearing? Did they not hear the crows of Maccabi and their starlings - particularly those with pens - chirping from the rooftop, swearing up and down to undermine their sworn crosstown enemy - "anything but Hapoel"?

To do everything means to let Haifa win a lazy, careless game, and to steal the birthright of their hated rival in a withdrawn but determined game. It is certainly legitimate to favor one team's glory over another. But it's crossing the line to lose willfully, to act like athletes, fight like lions and drop like flies.

And here - you saw it - the lame regain their strength within a week and are full of fight. They suddenly shake themselves off and fight back. Though they did not come to win - let's not get carried away - they kept to their side of midfield because offense is not the best defense, but sticking all your players in front of the goal is.

And, oh! These commentators highlighted the great and hid the ugly. They called this fiasco a planned tactical system, outstanding preparation by the coach.

So let's find a tree to hang them from. What would we do without the example of Jose Mourinho, who pulled the same trick, what would the commentators say? There's all the difference in the world between the Inter Milan and Maccabi Tel Aviv coaches. The first is leading his team to the Italian championship and could win the Champions League, while this Avi Nimni by any standard is a failure, turning a great club into something small.

And another difference: Mourinho set up a stifling defense in Barcelona after beating the Spaniards in Milan. Our Nimni, meanwhile, never won a derby as a coach, yet the scoreless draw on Saturday is considered an achievement because of the zeroes.

The point-reduction system (cutting them in half after 30 games ) should never have been adopted. Maccabi Haifa deserved the title from the outset. But when it was decided to have a playoff, maintaining fair play became important. It's really no longer important who is champion. Israeli soccer is not only inferior but corrupt in its character.

Here, no one plays to the final moment with full vigor and honor. Here they settle scores.