Soccer kipah stunt draws yellow card, Israeli attention

On August 18, during a UEFA Champions League playoff match against Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Hapoel Tel Aviv forward Itai Shechter celebrated his game-winning goal by pulling a Hapoel Tel Aviv kipah from his sock and placing it on his head. Video here:

The stunt earned Shechter a yellow card and apparently garnered attention in Israel, where the gesture was widely interpreted as a triumphant gesture against the Nazi history of Austria’s past. Ynet reported that the kipah was given to Shechter by a cancer patient and a longtime Hapoel T.A. fan.

In an interview with One sport, declaring that he “would have put the kipah on even if they had put me in prison,” Shechter said the following (my translation from the Hebrew):

I wasn’t trying to anger anyone. A young tzaddik gave [the kipah] to me in the airport. I told my friend that I’d put it in my sock and if, G-d willing, I score, I’ll wear it; I didn’t think this was a provocation. I wanted to say Shema’ Yisrael. What was going on in my mind was that, “I know that there are may Jews that are watching me from their home and are happy.”

On Aug. 21, during the opening match of the 2010-2011 Israeli Premier League, Shechter sustained a leg injury against Maccabi Haifa and is questionable for Hapoel’s Champions League rematch against Red Bull Salzburg in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Aug. 24. does anyone have a Hapoel Tel Aviv Tehillim book?

h/t @Margelit and @lizaswelt

Update: Following a 1-1 draw in their August 24th rematch against Red Bull Salzburg, Hapoel Tel Aviv advanced to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in team history. Shechter sat out the game on the injured list.

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