Israel, it seems, is the only country very excited about the U-21 European championship, which it will be hosting this summer. In a recent interview with the Russian “Sport-Express,” Avi Luzon, the Israeli soccer association chief, offered some surprising insights into the upcoming championship and Israeli soccer.
Asked about the mediocre accomplishments of the national team, Luzon responded: “The moment any player’s talent is recognized, he goes off to make money in Europe. At best, the players arrive in Spain or England at worst, in Belgium or Poland. I would be happy if all the players stayed in the Israeli league, but European clubs pay better, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.”
Luzon dismissed fears about holding Euro 2013 In Israel, stating: “There won’t be any security problem. Israel is the safest place in the world; we have the best capabilities when it comes to neutralizing threats, probably more than any other state on earth. All the stadiums will be packed for the games. I’m positive about that. Nobody should be worried about coming to Israel.”
As to the chances of Israel’s U-21 side, Luzon said: “Reaching the semis would be wonderful. I deeply hope we won’t repeat our performance in Euro 2007, when we failed to score a goal or secure even one point.
Asked about the future of his nephew, Guy Luzon, who ends his term with the U-21 national team after the championship, Luzon was enthusiastic: “He’s one of the most promising coaches in the continent, and I can promise that within five years he will be on of the top 10 coaches in Europe. We hoped he would stay on, but he wants to work every single day of the year, and from his point of view, he’s right. At present, he is determined to end his term with success, and then continue his progress.”
As to the World Cup qualifiers, Luzon sounded more realistic: “There’s nothing to be done about it Russia and Portugal are better than us. It would be a huge surprise if we were to beat Portugal this month.”