We immediately understood that footballer Walid Badir's hand was touching his rear thigh muscle, the same muscle that plagued several other Hapoel Tel Aviv players this season. Tal Ben Haim, Omer Damari, Alroey Cohen, Shimon Harush and youth team player Dor Hemo – all these suffered from the rear thigh muscle, some for a fortnight, others for months. It was January 30, in the 65th minute of the game. Badir was still searching for the exact point of pain, and was substituted by Mor Shushan.
Five minutes later, Nir Nahoum was also the victim of the very same rear thigh muscle and made his way to the bench, as if it was a virus transferred by the ball, not an individual physical injury. Five minutes into extra time it was Sabo Pavicevic's turn. Thirty minutes, three players, same injury. One Muslim, one Jew, one Christian, the frailty of all humans. And in this season's Theatre of the Absurd at Hapoel Tel Aviv, everyone seemed human and frail. Too human and too frail.
Hapoel Tel Aviv won that game, 2-1 against Hapoel Be'er Sheva in the State Cup, but all hell broke loose three days later, following the league loss to Maccabi Netanya. Coach Yossi Abuksis, as collegial as ever, directly blamed Dror Shimshon, the fitness coach, for the many injuries.
Still, many others blamed Abuksis himself. "He can't stand the pressure," some said, while others whispered that "the team lacks discipline," meaning that the players were giving their best at training sessions, and that it was the coach's responsibility to put and end to that, or, at the very least, not allow them to play before they're back to full fitness. The players themselves were blamed by the fans for being lazy or mentally weak. Everyone had someone to blame, and the season was so torrid, there was enough blame to go around.
The season ended earlier this week, and to say it was a disastrous one for Hapoel would be an understatement.
But there was no solution, no conclusions or lessons to be learned. Hapoel Tel Aviv's season was never about looking for solutions, but rather, moving from one scandal to the next, with every culprit hoping to blow the flames in someone else's direction. Thus, unsurprisingly, everyone was eventually judged to be guilty.