Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Israeli Soccer Heads Offer to Move Games for Money

February 9, 1998
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Officials in Israel’s soccer association have proposed rescheduling Sabbath afternoon games if promised substantial funding from the Finance Ministry.

The move was seen as boosting the cause of Israel’s fervently Orthodox political parties.

The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that officials from the league had been meeting with politicians from the religious parties to recruit their support.

Knesset member Avraham Ravitz, of United Torah Judaism, was due to meet with the heads of the soccer association, as was Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri.

“It’s an excellent idea. I’m happy Rabbi Ravitz has also joined the initiative to move the soccer games from the Sabbath to the middle of the week,” Deri was quoted in Ha’aretz. “I have no doubt that rescheduling the games for weekdays will bring more spectators than the Sabbath.”

Gavri Levy, chairman of the soccer association, said the motives for the change were purely for the benefit of the players, and the fans.

“The money we would receive if the plan does go through would be used toward lighting the fields and renovating the facilities,” he said.

“I want to stress that I am do not observe the Sabbath, but I do want to examine possibilities that soccer in general and certain teams in particular will benefit from the change,” he said.

Under the proposal, the games would be moved from Saturday afternoon to Saturday night — and to Sunday, in some areas.

Commenting on the plan, Meretz Party leader Yossi Sarid said, “If this is being done out of free choice, then no one can be forced to play soccer on the Sabbath. However, if there is some other element involved here, then there is a problem.”

Recommended from JTA