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Israeli government orders review after national football team slips below Palestine in world rankings

Sport minister launches root and branch inquiry following disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign

    Israel's Tomer Hemed, left, vies for the ball with Spain's Nacho Fernandez (GETTY)
    Israel's Tomer Hemed, left, vies for the ball with Spain's Nacho Fernandez (GETTY)

    The Israeli government has ordered a review into the national football team after the country slipped in the Fifa world rankings to 98, 16 places behind Palestine.

    The move comes after a dismal qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup, in which Israel lost six of their 10 matches and finished a point behind Albania in their group.

    Miri Regev, the Israeli culture and sport minister, announced that she had ordered the review, which will examine the Israeli game from the grassroots up.

    Tefen, a management consultancy, has been approached, according to the Jerusalem Post, with the findings of the inquiry expected by June 2018.

    Two years ago Ms Regev and Ofer Eini, the chairman of the Israel Football Association (IFA), announced their intention to establish a committee to investigate the causes of Israel’s chronic shortcomings although it never actually convened.

    The country has failed to qualify for every major tournament since 1970 despite boasting a number of Premier League players in recent years, such as Yossi Benayoun and Tal Ben Haim.

    Ms Regev, who made international headlines in May when she wore a dress printed with the Jerusalem skyline at the Cannes film festival, angered IFA officials by failing to inform them in advance of her announcement.

    She said: “Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and in Israel and it should be a source of national pride.

    “Soccer receives the biggest budget of all sports, but unfortunately the national team hasn’t qualified for a major tournament in 47 years.

    “Due to the current crisis, which can be seen in the resounding failure in the latest campaign and the drop in the FIFA rankings, there is an immediate need to examine the reasons for failure.”

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