The Coronavirus has been ravaging the sports world as NBA basketball players, English Premier League stars, along with Italian Serie A and La Liga standouts have all been diagnosed with the illness.
srael has also seen its fair share of cases but the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club owner Moshe Hogeg was the first in the country’s sports sphere to contract COVID-19 when he tested positive over the weekend. The yellow-and-black owner who is doing fine, had already been in quarantine due to the fact that he had been in contact with someone who also had the virus.
With the news that Hogeg was diagnosed with Coronavirus a number of club employees who had been with the owner also went into quarantine including former Beitar star Eli Ohana.
Hogeg was made available to a select number of media outlets including The Jerusalem Post just prior to the news that he had contracted the virus and spoke about the club’s current predicament due to the health situation that is affecting the entire globe.
“There almost 1,000 people who are ill and who knows how much worse the situation will be,” began the Beitar owner. “I have a friend that is sick and I am in touch with him. On a personal note I understand that those under 50 will for the most part get over the illness, fever and will begin to feel better which he already is. However, he’s still under quarantine and people are scared because of the uncertainty of how the illness will affect others over time.”
With almost everyone taking a financial hit, sports including football is no different explained Hogeg. “This isn’t just a financial loss for the club that we are experiencing now but it’s everybody in every single industry. My online services have been doing well due to the situation as other companies who are online as well. But other than that, food and pharmaceuticals there isn’t one industry that hasn’t been hit or that is suffering.”
“The situation in our league is exactly the same as that of the rest of the world. There are individuals and families that need to pay for basic services and can’t due to the crisis. Once things begin to level off, football won’t be at the top of the list of the government agencies to fund. There are basic things that are needed to sustain life.”
Hogeg continued, “The whole world is being affected and every league across the globe is being hit with the Coronavirus. You can see how its is affecting people that are close to you even if they don’t have the actual virus as many have either been furloughed of have lost their jobs.”
“Perhaps things will begin to get back to normal when the sun comes out and the virus will begin to go away. Maybe when the clocks change and there is more sunlight that will also help us get back to normal in a month or two.”
With concerns to the team itself, an immediate decision was made in terms of the players salaries and vast youth department that is housed right by Shaare Tzedek Hospital in Bayit Vegan, “All of the players understand the issues at hand and they all understood the importance to cut the salaries by 20%. This was done with each and every player’s consent. It is not my plan to furlough players, however, the entire youth department staff are in that situation currently.”
As the situation is affecting most fo the world’s population, Hogeg knows that his squad is aware of the challenges that they are facing, “Everyone understands what the situation is and the players are the same way. A player that doesn’t understand what we are all experiencing may not have a place to go back to work to. When people all withdraw money from the bank at the same time, the banks will eventually run out of money. In the same vain, if players keep taking money from their teams the whole club will fall apart. Smaller clubs are in a much more brutal situation. Teams that have owners will be able to handle the situation better but those who don’t and who are supported by the municipalities will go bankrupt. They won’t be able to handle this crisis.”
Every club has both Israelis and foreign players and each have a different status in Israel when it comes to the possibility of furloughing as Sabras have that option but imports do not said Hogeg, “The foreign players’ situation is different than the Israelis, but we are far, far away from the issue of what will be later on.”
However, Hogeg’s biggest concern is those who are being hit hard financially, “Right now, I am more concerned about the people who are earning very little and won’t be able to support their families. That is what I am very concerned and worried about.”