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The Impact war has on Israeli Football

The Impact war has on Israeli Football

Wartime football has not been invented in the Middle East. The recent ‘Protective Edge’ operation in Gaza has a major impact on Israeli Football.

The ongoing ‘Protective Edge’ operation in Gaza will have a long lasting impact on Israeli football in the light of recent escalations in violent activities toward Israeli or Jewish communities around the world.

No, I am not going to comment on whether the actions either side are taking are right, but rather shed some light about the economical and developmental impact wartime football has on Israeli football.

UEFA had announced last week that the Israeli teams participating in European competitions this year will host their home matches in Cyprus. Three teams have already started the competitions, two of them eliminated early on. Maccabi Tel Aviv made it through the 3rd qualifying stage of the Champions League while Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Be’er Sheva were defeated 1-3 and 1-2 on aggregate respectively and already said goodbye to the Europa League. Ironi Kiryat Shmona, the Israeli cup holder will start their participation in the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League on July 31st and their home game against Russian side Dynamo Moscow on August 7th is more than likely to be played in Cyprus as well.

The same Hapoel Be’er Sheva had to leave their foreign players who were fearful of the developing situation in Israel at the venue the club had its pre-season training camp at in Poland. Romanian defender Cristian Sârghi refused to sign for Maccabi Netanya F.C. initially because of the current situation and eventually agreed after the club has promised him the situation in the region is only temporary.

Yarden Shaggerman, 15, shared in an interview to the Israeli youth football website “Vole” his view about living and playing football under fire amid the current conflict. “Missiles are targeted towards where I live for 14 years now. It is now a daily routine”, said the Argentinian-born who made Aliyah to Israel at the age of 3. “It is very hard to conduct your routine to the continuous missiles threat. We many times need to stop training due to code red alarms and run to take shelter in the shelters surrounding the pitch. It is very hard to enjoy the game itself when you know something can happen to you or your loved ones at any moment. You must be alert all the time”.

It does not end here though. Those Israeli teams are still losing thousands upon thousands of US Dollars if not more having to play on a foreign ground in front of an almost empty stadium.

Still, a more worrying phenomenon has been the growing violence in Europe towards Jewish or Israeli targets in the name of ideology. On Wednesday July 23rd the training friendly match between Maccabi Haifa and French side Lille OSC in Bischofshofen near Salzburg, Austria was abandoned after 86 minutes (2-0 to Lille) following Turkish pro-Palestinians invading the pitch and attacking the Haifa players.

Sources in Maccabi Haifa commented to the Jerusalem Post on the rare incident “Maccabi Haifa believes in co-existence, tolerance and is against violence. We were only targeted because we represent Israel. It was highly dangerous; one of them carried a Swiss Knife, it could have ended far worse”. In the videos of the incident Vladimir Stojković Haifa’s Serbian goalkeeper (in the orange outfit with the bright coloured boots, see video below), can be clearly seen confronting the hooligans defending his team mates. Police managed to calm the situation down and arrest some of the rioters eventually.

These scenes should never be part of football in any country and unfortunately they have become embedded in the daily lives of Israeli football clubs and football players throughout the years.

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