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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

20,000 kipot for Israeli soccer fans

Yesterday I blogged about a goal that an Israeli team scored against an Austrian team, followed by the scorer celebrating by putting on a kipah - and getting a yellow card.

Silke has been all over this for me, as my knowledge of the sport is very lacking, but she contacted an expert who has acted as a referee for soccer matches and he confirmed that handing out the yellow card for that is a ridiculous and disproportionate application of the rules, given what other celebrations look like.

She found an article in TheJC that gives more background:

Hapoel Tel Aviv striker Itay Shechter insists that his unique celebration wearing a kippah after scoring the Israeli team's third goal in the 3-2 victory over Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League play-off was not a provocation.

Shechter said that putting on the red kippa with Hapoel's emblem was a premeditated act.
He explained: “A Hapoel fan at the airport gave me the kippah and I thought to myself I'll put it in my sock and if God let's me score I'll put it on and say Shema Yisrael. I was not thinking about provoking anybody, I was only thinking about how happy all the Jewish people at home would be watching the game on TV.”

Hapoel manager Eli Guttman said: “I don't have a problem with Christian players who cross themselves after they score so why shouldn't Shechter pray the way he wants to.”

Shechter was booked by the Portuguese referee for putting on the kippah. Hapoel have not indicated whether they will appeal the booking.

The JC can reveal that the kippah was given to Shechter by Moshe Zinger, a 60-year-old religious Hapoel fan who travelled to Salzburg despite suffering from cancer. He said: "Seeing Hapoel win and Shechter put on the kippah gave me such a lift that I reckon if they checked me now they would find I am healthy."

Hapoel's reaction is classic:
Hapoel have now ordered 20,000 similar small red knitted kippot with the team's emblem on and plan to give them out to fans at next Tuesday night's second leg match.
I want video! Especially since Hapoel clubs originated with the anti-religious Labor Zionists from the 1920s.

My only question is - do they now have machines to make custom knitted kipot? I thought they were all still hand-crocheted, and 20,000 is a very big (and expensive) order!