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Sports minister Matan Vilnai has announced that there will be a committee to investigate the football scene in the country. This comes up after the latest referees bribery cases and it will include the referees bribery, illegal gambling on games, latest report on the IFA's operations, double contracts between teams and players, and the cases of Amir Rand and Meni Levi.

The committee will be led by judge Amnon Strashnov, former police deputy Amit Levi, former IRS deputy Yoni Kaplan, former congress (Knesset) member Uriel Lin, and former football player Yehuda Shaharavani.

Hopefully this will clear up some of the garbage that goes on in our football.
 

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I believe that this corruption is one of the reasons Israel hasn't make it to the World Cup and Eurocup
 

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Strasnov report proposes reforms in local soccer

By Ori Lewis

www.haaretzdaily.com


The Strasnov Committee report on the state of local soccer has recommended more stringent running of the game and closer adherence to practices in public life.

The report, published yesterday, was presented to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in his capacity as caretaker sports minister by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Amnon Strasnov in Jerusalem yesterday.

Although it has not called for any individual official to be removed from office, the report's most urgent recommendation is that elections be held within a year for chairmanship of the Israel Football Association, under a new and more democratic electoral system.

Among other suggestions in the 120-page document are calls for more updated financial practices within the game including turning all clubs from associations into commercial enterprises. This would mean a complete breaking of ties between the clubs and the sports centers (Hapoel, Maccabi and Betar). Further proposals involve making referees in the top two divisions fully professional and forbidding proxy votes by IFA members.

"The elections [for chairman] should be held within a year from today," Strasnov said as he presented his report. "If political parties can choose their members in primary elections, there is no reason why this should not be done in soccer as well. The days when electoral committees determine the identity of the chairman four years from now should end," he said.

"I hope this report will bring a new beginning to Israeli soccer; we have proposed a complete overhaul of the workings of the IFA, of appointments within the organization and of the running of its finances," Strasnov said.

"The prime minister has promised to act on the report with the aid of the Sports Ministry. The greatest effect, however, will only be achieved through the help of public opinion, media pressure and legislation. They are needed to make the report work," he said.

Sharon is acting sports minister following the break up of the national unity coalition last month when Matan Vilnai, who commissioned the report, walked out of the government with his Labor Party colleagues.

"We have seen some good results by clubs in recent years and I am sure that after the report is studied and put into practice, we will see much more improvement," Sharon said.

With elections looming on January 28, and a new sports minister unlikely to be appointed before sometime in February at the earliest, it is not certain what, if anything, will come of the report, as these are only recommendations which could either be rejected by the IFA, or it could stall on action to implement them.

The IFA is known to be in favor of some of the proposals, however.

Vilnai said in a radio interview yesterday that the findings should be heeded carefully. "I hope the report is acted upon; it will bring tremendous improvement to Israeli soccer. If I were still sports minister, I would have made sure the findings were heeded and acted upon like clockwork," he said.

Scandals

The five-man committee, made up of Strasnov, former top policeman Arie Amit, former income tax commissioner Yoni Kaplan, lawyer and former MK Uriel Linn and former national team player, coach and erstwhile pundit Yehuda Sharabani heard testimony from 56 witnesses. It was appointed following several unsavory incidents in the game, including sex scandals among national team players in the late 1990s.

More recently a crowd crush by Maccabi Haifa fans celebrating their championship at the end of the 2000-2001 season ended with two supporters seriously injured. One, teenager Amir Rand, is still unconscious in hospital almost two years after the event in which the police were accused of mishandling the crowd at Kiryat Eliezer stadium as supporters tried to storm onto the pitch.

The second event was a case of alleged medical mismanagement in physical fitness tests which left Maccabi Tel Aviv defender Meni Levy on the verge of death after he collapsed during a league match last season. Some 10 months after the event, Levy remains in a coma.

The third event which immediately preceded Vilnai's establishment of the committee was the alleged case of corruption involving referees and players whom the police claim fixed results of matches for illegal betting rings. Although some eight months have passed since the affair hit the headlines, no indictments have yet been issued against anybody allegedly involved.

IFA spokesman Shaul Eisenberg said in a statement that the governing body of local soccer was still studying the report and would comment at a later date.
 
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