Greetings from the Mayor of Haifa
When we played football in my childhood neighborhood, with a ball made of rags, fairness and sports went hand in hand, and nobody thought otherwise. There was no referee, we had no whistle; the "perpetrators" admitted outs, fouls and handballs by a raising of the hand, and the ball went to the other team.
This phenomenon was not unique to our neighborhood—the same occurred in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Manchester and Marseille, Moscow and Shanghai. Sports and fairness were inseparable, to the degree that they shared a single word: Sportsmanship. That was long ago and somewhere along the line the firm bond between fairness and sports began to slacken.
Over the years, sports gained financial and commercial significance that ballooned to imaginary dimensions, which gave rise to rigged games, struggles and corruption of various international associations, among other things. Thus, treating the issue of fairness and sports became essential and unavoidable. Hence the major importance of this conference and of all the forums that tackle the matter.
The secondary importance of this conference lies in that it takes place in Haifa, a city where sports is all but a religion. A city with the best sports infrastructures in a vast array of categories: a football stadium that is among the finest in Europe; a multi-purpose modern state-of-the-art sports arena for basketball, volleyball, judo and gymnastics; an Olympic mountain bike track that hosted the European Championships; and a new sailing center that hosted surfing and sailing world championships.
Look out of the windows and see our magnificent beaches. That is where various races take place, including a half marathon and a quality triathlon that attracts enthusiasts from all over the world.
Haifa is a city that succeeded in turning its intricate topography into an advantage, by building foundations for quality competitive sports. Haifa has a reputation of having "lots of brains", which is no joke—it is a city of academia, with a record number of students in the Technion, the university and in colleges. It is a hi-tech and biotech center where Israel's best researchers work, most of which were "self-produced" by local academic institutions.
Please bear in mind that Haifa is the smallest city in the world to have yielded three Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureates.
This is not the whole story. I insisted (politely) that during your stay in Haifa you would tour it and be impressed with its beauty and breathtaking landscapes. Haifa is a hospitable and welcoming city, a multi-cultural city where members of all religions and congregations coexist peacefully and tranquilly.
During your couple of days here, you will not have the time to experience all that the city and its people have to offer, so do come back again to Haifa with your families, and spend a pleasant vacation here. I am sure you will never regret it.
Mayor of Haifa