The Israel national team's journey ahead of the opening of the Euro 2024 qualifiers (Photo: Shlomi Gabai | Video editing: Nir Chen)
How many soccer fans in Israel are really waiting for the game against Kosovo?
Most of them don't even know that it's in Motzash. 50 years of not qualifying for a major tournament have made the scandals and gossip surrounding the national team the biggest and perhaps the only issue among the public. It will also remain so until the national team proves otherwise
. In the land of cynics when it comes to the Israeli national team. In the age of social networks, this cynicism has already turned into a war of positions, easy turf for politicians (in the cases of Azili and Davor) and preoccupation with almost everything except the professional part and the games, the interest in which decreases significantly from tournament to tournament. True, all the tickets are sold out (two
days before the game, after being put up for sale for months) and in the game against Kosovo we will have a full Bloomfield, but the level of general interest and concern for the team in the average football fan has long been out of the lexicon.
Zahavi provided most of the action ahead of Kosovo, this time off the field (Photo: GettyImages)
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In how many football fan forums or WhatsApp groups did you hear someone talking about the game with Kosovo?
Have you heard of friends getting together to watch together?
There are a lot of people who remind them that there is a match on Mochash and they are surprised. Mostly they know that there is a break from team games for the benefit of the national team, but they don't remember exactly which days the national team plays and against whom
. They advanced to a major tournament and from qualifying campaign to qualifying campaign signaled the faith of the Israeli fan. It is possible to explain to the fans that two are advancing from home, that there is a possibility to qualify for the Euros through the League of Nations, but most of them are convinced that this will not happen and therefore there is nothing to develop expectations. If the national team is really there, in a situation of A real chance to do it, there will be growing interest, patriotism and great sympathy around it. Like Maccabi Tel Aviv in a successful season in the Euroleague, but even the youth team that qualified for the Euro finals last summer.
In an age where the audience is cynical to the point of despair, it needs something to engage with and the national team provided it.
It's amazing how many people who have an interest in the Israeli national team, responded to Eran Zahavi's case.
Not just the average fan, but former national team players who speak from a position.
There are those who want the team's success and sided with Eran Zahavi and his demand for a room alone, that is clear.
But when his uncle Avatt, who was close to Yossi Bennion for years, suddenly stands up and goes against his former friend in the dressing room - calling Zahavi "the greatest of the team's players" - you understand that everyone wants a chance to jump on the bandwagon, settle accounts and add fire to the fire.
Everyone is trying to close accounts and add fire to the fire.
Avat and Benion in the days when they still shared a dressing room (Photo: Kobi Eliyahu)
In the case of Atzili and Davor, politicians and associations responded that shocked the world.
It is not certain that they know exactly who the Israeli national team is and how many soccer players are playing on the grass, but they recognized headlines and a PR pop-up and celebrated.
In another case, Dia Saba decided that he did not want to join the current team under Alon Hazan and that is his right.
The big problem started when quotes from officials in the association and around Saba, some of them family members, started to be published, which simply turned the issue into another farce.
In one of the quotes from Saba insiders it is said that "if there was another coach who wasn't Alon Hazan, most likely he would have made the team".
Most likely, yes?
It's nice to react like that when you are invited to some event, not to the Israeli national team.
The case of Saba Tigla ignited the headlines and created more interpretations and reactions that dealt with everything except the professional part.
There was even a claim that Dia Saba was required to apologize to Hazan - this already brought out even Shlomi Barzel, the association's spokesperson and a sound person, a sharp response according to which "there is a liar spreading a theory about Dia Saba and the national team".
Over 50 years of sporting failures have distanced the belief and connection to the national team.
The choice to deal with the gossipy topics around is not accidental, it is really what interests football fans until they are proven otherwise.
If an average football fan is asked what he would rather read today, an article about the game with Kosovo or a story about a new affair "starring" a player from the squad, he will probably choose the second option.
This is currently the best sport that the Israeli national team manages to provide.
Israel national teams
Israel's national team