Casspi set for France af­ter snub

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BY JAMES MAS­TERS

NBA STAR Omri Casspi has re­jected the op­por­tu­nity to move back to Israel with Mac­cabi Tel Aviv.

Casspi, who has spent the past two years in the USA with the Sacra­mento Kings, had hoped to se­cure a move home fol­low­ing the NBA lock­out.

But a snag over the amount of tax he would be re­quired to pay has per­suaded the 23-year-old to con­sider join­ing French side Villeur­bane along with San An­to­nio Spurs star Tony Parker.

“Un­for­tu­nately, sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems like taxes have pre­vented me from join­ing the team I most wanted to play for,” Casspi wrote on his Face­book page.

“I wish to thank David Fe­d­er­man and Shi­mon Mizrahi for their sin­cer­ity and un­der­stand­ing through­out the ne­go­ti­a­tions. I have im­mense re­spect for both of them.

“I want to thank all Mac­cabi fans for their love, and at this mo­ment in time I’m as sad as they are.”

Mean­while, Casspi has been left out of the Israel squad to play in the Eurobas­ket next week af­ter he broke down with a re­cur­ring knee prob­lem.

“We de­cided to put an end to the ‘yes, no, yes, no,’ sit­u­a­tion,” said Israel coach Arik Shivek. “Omri won’t be join­ing us. The cur­rent squad play­ers are those who will take part i n the tour­na­ment, a n d t h a t ’ s

fi­nal.”

Mac­cabi Haifa boss Elisha Levi has launched a scathing at­tack on Eng­land’s World Cup fi­nal ref­eree Howard Webb fol­low­ing his side’s exit from the Champions League.

Mac­cabi, who crashed out of the com­pe­ti­tion fol­low­ing a penalty shootout de­feat by Bel­gian champions Genk, were in­censed by a num­ber of Webb’s de­ci­sions dur­ing the sec­ond leg of their play-off tie.

Webb, who is re­garded as one of the top ref­er­ees in world foot­ball, courted con­tro­versy af­ter send­ing off Itzhak Co­hen for a sec­ond book­able of­fence dur­ing ex­tra-time.

The Premier League of­fi­cial was fully 40-yards away from the ac­tion but still de­cided to give Co­hen his march­ing or­ders – de­spite the as­sis­tant ref­eree fail­ing to flag for a foul.

Levi was al­ready fum­ing at Webb’s fail­ure to spot in­fringe­ments in the lead up to both of Genk’s goals as the Bel­gians over­turned a 2-1 first leg deficit with a 2-1 vic­tory of their own be­fore win­ning on penal­ties.

“I think Genk’s goals were both scored with a great deal of help from the of­fi­cials,” blasted Levi.

“There were clear fouls be­fore the goals on Itzhak Co­hen and Gus­tavo Boc­coli.”

Eyal Go­lasa’s spec­tac­u­lar strike had can­celled out Jelle Vossen’s opener for Genk, only for for­mer Rangers man Thomas Buf­fel to take the game into ex­tra-time and penal­ties.

Mac­cabi duo Go­lasa and striker Vladimir Dval­ishvili both had their spot kicks saved as the home side tri­umphed 4-1.

The de­feat is ex­pected to cost Mac­cabi eight mil­lion eu­ros af­ter they missed out on a place in the pres­ti­gious Champions League group stage.

In­stead, Levi’s side are ex­pected to pocket just one mil­lion eu­ros af­ter drop­ping into to­day’s Europa League draw.

For­mer Mac­cabi hero Elyaniv Barda, who scored a cru­cial away goal for Genk last week, was left in the un­fa­mil­iar sit­u­a­tion of cel­e­brat­ing a Haifa de­feat. He said: “It was weird for me to play against the team I helped be­come champions twice. “But there was no sen­ti­ment on the pitch, only af­ter­wards. It’s a great feel­ing for us and cruel for them.”

PHO­TOS: REUTERS

Howards’s Way: Nir Davi­dovitch looks down and out while Webb was heav­ily crit­i­cised by Levi

Net worth: Casspi go­ing French

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