Maccabi Tel Aviv’s coach, the former Brighton & Hove Albion manager Oscar García, has resigned, with the club saying that this was because of the current security situation in Israel.
The club said García, a former Barcelona midfielder from Spain, will be replaced by Pako Ayestarán, another Spaniard. Ayestarán was previously an assistant coach at Liverpool and Valencia under Rafa Benítez.
García is a former Barcelona youth team coach who began his second stint at Maccabi Tel Aviv in June. He previously coached Maccabi during the 2012-13 season, leading the team to the league title before leaving to manage Brighton.
García’s resignation came two days before the “home” leg of Maccabi’s Europa League play-off against the Greek club Asteras Tripolis, scheduled to be played in Cyprus.
Israel is in the eighth week of a military campaign in the Gaza Strip. It has been accompanied by the firing of hundreds of rockets by Islamic militants at Israel, including some at Tel Aviv.
“You cannot do as if there is nothing happening,” said Maccabi’s general manager, Jordi Cruyff, himself a former Barcelona midfielder and the son of Johan Cruyff. “Games are being cancelled, the national team has to play abroad, all Israeli teams have had to play outside Israel.”
Israeli sports have been significantly affected by the Gaza war. The domestic football season, due to kick off last weekend, was postponed, and the upcoming European Championship qualifier against Belgium, which was scheduled to be played in Jerusalem on 9 September, will either be played in another country or postponed.
Also, Israel’s Davis Cup playoff against Argentina, due to be played in Ramat Hasharon on 12-14 September, has been moved to Sunrise, Florida.