South African Athletes Barred from Competing in Maccabiah

Jewish soccer players from South Africa vented their wrath Wednesday on the organizing committee of the 13th Maccabiah, the Jewish Olympic-style games that opened Monday night at Ramat Gan Stadium.

The eight-member committee decided “reluctantly” Tuesday morning to bar the South Africans from team competition.

They feared penalties against the Maccabiah by the International Football Federation, which has ostracized South Africa because of its apartheid policies.

The soccer players said, “We feel as though we have been turned away as Jews.”

South African athletes who entered other events as individuals will be allowed to compete. But they may decide to walk out of the games in solidarity with the soccer team.

Team members buttonholed Knesset members and complained bitterly of their treatment. They said they had bowed to rules created by international pressure to enter the Maccabiah individually, instead of as a national team.

On opening night, the South Africans marched around the stadium without flags as part of the “rest of the world” delegation.

“Now we cannot appear even under that make-believe category,” the players said.

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