To the Bethesda Patch readers,
I do not live in Maryland; I do not even live in the US. I leave In Israel, and I would like to share with you a story.
The most popular sport in Israel is football (what you call soccer). One of the oldest football clubs in Israel is "Hapoel Haifa". It has a very long history and tradition, and has lots of fans all over Israel. Like any other club, it had it's good years and bad years. But it has always been a club with tradition, pride, and fans that followed the team also during the bad years.
10 years ago, the club was purchased by Mr. Yoav Katz, an American accountant from Bethesda, MD (a former Israeli that left Israel about 40 years ago). I don't really understand why he did it, maybe for getting publicity in the Israeli sports media (he gets lots of it whenever he visits Israel), maybe for getting tax benefits in the US. It doesn't look like he did it for his passion to football or to Hapoel Haifa club, as you can read in the following paragraphs.
During the last 10 years he brought the club to one of it's worst situation ever:
- The number of children and teenagers playing in the club youth teams decreased dramatically. Many left (including the most talented young players) to other clubs because of the poor conditions.
- The training facility is neglected. It looks like a junk yard. The sports media in Israel often mentions that this place is suitable for cattle, but not for football players to practice.
- The adults team is in one of it's worst situations. There is no long term, planning. Players are often hired for just few months, no long term, contracts. The big talents of the club are just waiting for the contract to expire in order to look for other clubs to play for.
- The fans are leaving. The number of fans coming to watch the team is less than half than it used to be. And it's not because of the immediate results, it's because we see no future for our club with this management.
For the last year, many of the team fans started to protest against the owner, asking him to leave. But instead of listen to what we have to say, he is putting all his efforts to shut us down. Instead of making the efforts to improve the club, to give this club a future, he only cares about his image in the Israeli media, and about depressing the activity of the fans that are asking him to leave.
If any of you readers is a truly sports fan, I am sure that you can understand Hapoel Haifa's fans feeling and frustration. We beg Mr. Katz for many months now, please leave us. Sell to someone else that really cares for the club, that understands Israeli football. But Mr. Katz refuses, as kind of a principle. No matter how bad the club condition is, no matter how much the fans despise him, he will not sell.
I am writing this post out of desperation. The football club that I grew up with is being destroyed by an American accountant, who doesn't care at all, and there is nothing we fans can do about it.
Thank you for your time.