Hapoel Haifa F.C.
Found in: Israeli football clubs
Hapoel Haifa Football Club is an Israeli football club located in Haifa. The club won one championship (1998/99) and 3 Israeli cups . The Team is also known as "The Sharks".
the Early Years
The beginning of the club was in a local organization founded in Haifa in 1924. This organization included several branches related to sports, in addition to branches related to worker movements and the Histadrut. Their goal was to found the first ever labor football club in Palestine, like those around the world. The most acceptable version about the club's establishment says that during Passover, on April 24 1924, the establishment meeting took place, in a house at the Hadar Neighborhood in Haifa, including 36 representatives of the different authorities. The meeting was led by Yehoshua Sherpstein and Yair Aharony.
On May 1, 1924, Labor Day, was the first match, which in Hapoel Haifa beat 3-1 the train workers of Haifa. In the first years of the club it played mainly friendly matches against different teams from Palestine, Europe and the Middle East .
At the beginning Hapoel Haifa was included under the Maccabi union, since it was the only union at that time. Two years later the club decided to leave Maccabi, and was among the founders of the new union, Hapoel.
In 1928 the Israel Football Association (IFA) was founded, and formal matches were scheduled: In the first 4 years only cup matches, and afterwards league matches were added. During these years Hapoel Haifa did not win many trophies, yet it was still one of the leading teams in the country. In 1932 the team qualified to her first cup final, against the British Police. The referee was British, and some of the decisions he made were very controversial. During the match, when the score was 1-0 to Hapoel Haifa (goal by Yonah Stern), after some decisions that the players of Haifa found very odd and unfair, one of Haifa players stole the cup. The result: Hapoel Haifa has been disqualified. In that year 5 of Haifa's players made it to the Palestine squad.
In 1950, after the War of Indepedence, the Israeli League returned to action, and Haifa finished that season in the 3rd place, after Maccabi and Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Two years later the cup matches were renewed. These years were direct continuation to the seasons before the state of Israel was established, when the team was one of the leaders, yet did not manage to win any trophies.
the Sixties and the Seventies
Hapoel was very weak in the early sixties. The team finished 1962/63 one before last, and was supposed to relegate to the second division. But, due to suspicions about improper matches, the relegations were canceled (many say that this was due to the connections of the heads of Hapoel in the IFA). At this turning point, many talented young players promoted from the youth team, causing a significant improvement that started the club's best period. In the same season, 1962/63, the club won the Israel State Cup, after beating Maccabi Haifa in the final 1-0. In all of the following seasons the team finished in the top third of the league, and qualified to the cup final three more times. The main players of the team at that time were Abba Gindin, Yitzhak Englander, Yochanan Vollach and Roby Young. These players were some of the greatest players in the Israeli football in the 60s and the 70s and were part of the Israel national team for many years. Roby Young was even the captain of the national team.
In 1974 Hapoel Haifa won the Israeli cup again. In those years the club's leading players began to leave it, including the shocking transfer of Englander and Vollach to the bitter rival Maccabi Haifa, due to Hapoel's poor management. Although the team finished 2nd in 1975, a great fall has began, which led to the big crush of the 80's.
the Eighties: the downfall
In 1981 the team relegated, for the first time ever, to the second division. Until then it was one of the 3 clubs that never relegated (alongside Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv). That was the beginning of the worst decade in the club's history. Even the signing of Peter Lorimer, one of the greatest players of Leeds United, as manager, didn't help and he left several months later. The big crisis in the Histadrut led to a financial crisis in the club, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. The crisis hit also the administrative side, and directors were replaced frequently. Near the end of the 80s, three former players of the club, Yitzhak Englander, Avi Kaufman and Efraim Gabay, took the club to their hands as an exterior organization, hoping to save the club from bankruptcy, yet due to lack of funding sources they couldnt solve the financial crisis in the club.
the Nineties: The Age of Shapira
In 1992 the team promoted to the first division in the second time. That season was accompanied with rumors about an anonymous businessman who took responsibility on the club. Ultimately, the anonymous was turned out to be Ruby Shapira, a businessman who made his fortune in the fishing business in Nigeria. Shapira gave big amounts of money to the club and saved it from financial collapse. That money was used to purchase many leading players, but the team made no remarkable achievement and was still at relegating danger. Following a long streak of losses during the season of 1993/94 Shapira decided to buy the club from the Histadrut. In the first years under Shapira many great players and managers were brought to the team, yet it could not win trophies and achieve the club's great ambition: championship.
1998/99: the Championship
In 1997/98 Hapoel Haifa reached 3rd place, with Eli Guttman as manager. The following season the team was tagged as a top team, but not as a candidate for championship. In spite of the predictions, a streak of impressive victories put Haifa in the 1st place, with a big advantage over the rest of the league. Hapoel showed a very tactical and effective style of football that dragged criticism from different sources, such as the media and other teams. Hapoel remained in the 1st place and increased her advantage over the other teams.
On Saturday, May 8 1999, in the 27th round of the league, Hapoel Haifa competed with Maccabi Tel Aviv, who was 2nd before that round, in Kiryat Eliezer Stadium. Hapoel won the match 3-2 (two goals by Oren Zeituni and one more by Oren Nissim) and was crowned as champion, for the first (and only) time.
Millenium - Present: the Death of Shapira and the Relegation
In the season following the championship, the team finished in the disappointing 7th place. Two key players left , and their replacements couldn't lead the team to repeat the great achievement. The next season, the manager Guttman left, and his replacement Guy Levy brought 4 new foreign players: Alin Minteuan, Oleg Yelshev, Michael Anicic and Victor Pacha, who joined veteran Dimitry Ulianov. The team finished in the 3rd place after two victories in the Haifa derby against Maccabi (3-0 and 3-1), and 3 victories over the current champion Hapoel TA (3-1 and 1-0 in Tel Aviv and 2-0 at home). At the summer of 2001, the media published that Shapira decided to reduce his investment in the club significantly. The club's budget was decreased, planned purchases were canceled and leading players were released. It was discovered later that Shpira's financial status has deteriorated. He was in deep debts and his businesses were close to bankruptcy. Some of the club's assets, including some players' player cards were mortgaged to a Dutch fishing company which Shapira owed money to. Shapira's status deteriorated quickly. On Friday, December 14 2001, Shapira committed suicide by shooting with his own gun in his house in Nigeria. After his suicide, the court in Haifa ruled that Hapoel Haifa will pass to the responsibility of temporary liquidators. By the end of that season (2001/02) Hapoel relegated to the second division. For nearly 3 years the club was managed by 3 liquidators, who managed to keep the team in the second division and simultaneously looking for potential purchasers to the club. In 2004, after the team returned to the first division, the club was bought by Yoav Katz, an Israeli businessman who lives in the US. The team relegated to the second division by the end of the season, where it stayed until now.
In 2005/06 the club's youth team won the youth league's championship.
Hapoel Haifa was the first Israeli team to qualify to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League (2000). The team passed Beikta (Turkey) in the second qualifying round after 1-1 in Turkey (Giovanni Rosso scored to Haifa) and 0-0 in Kiryat Eliezer in the second leg. In the third qualifying round the team lost twice 2-0 to Valencia CF (Spain), who went on till the Champions League Final that year.
After losing to Valencia Hapoel met Club Brugge from Belgium in the UEFA cup. Hapoel won that match 3-1 (two goals by Amir Turgeman and one by Nir Sevillia). In the second leg in Belgium Hapoel gained a quick advantage (Rosso). Brugge managed to turn the score to 3-1; Amir Turgeman scored the 3-2 in the 75' minute and Brugge scored in stoppage time to win 4-2. Yet it was Haifa who qualified to the next level, due to advantage in away goals. It was the first time an Israeli team qualifies to the second round of the UEFA cup.
In the second round Haifa met Ajax Amsterdam from the Netherlands. In the first leg in Israel Ajax won 3-0. In the second leg Hapoel made a sensational victory of 1-0, with Giovanni Rosso scoring a penalty kick and missing another.
the City Rivalry with Maccabi Haifa
The two main clubs in Haifa, Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi Haifa, has a long history of raging rivalry that includes mutually loathing and fan conflicts, a rivalry that went on even during Hapoel Haifa's less successful years in second division. The source of this rivalry is mainly in the clubs' political identity.
Hapoel was founded as a socialist labor team, who were identified mainly with the Histadrut and the reign of Mapai, both local and national. Hapoel was identified as the team of the establishment that was supported by the authorities. Therefore, naturally, Maccabi Haifa became the deprived team, that theoretically has to fight for its existence. The differences between the clubs created the differences between the fans: Hapoel Haifa's fans were traditionally identified with the political left side of the map, most of the workers in the industries in Haifa. The Maccabi Haifa fans were identified mostly as part of the medium-low status.
In the last years the differences between the two sides faded, mainly because Maccabi's numerous achievements, which enlarged and varied their fan group. Yet there is still a slight difference between the two fan groups. Many of the fans of Hapoel are living in the Krayot. In the last years the rivalry got a more sportive shade, which appears especially before derby matches.
As of July 2008.
*Winners 1962/63, 1965/66, 1973/74
Toto Cup Artzit
Youth Team Championship
Youth Team Cup
Notable Former Player
Ran Ben Shimon
Binyamin (Booma) Wineberg
"Hapoel Haifa" - The Official Site Of Hapoel Haifa.