Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thou shall not (or shall) play sport on the Sabbath Day?

Former national team coach Shlomo Scharf has called on Israel Football Association chairman Itche Menahem to resign, after learning that four of Israel's European Championship qualifying games could be played on Shabbat and the IFA has made no effort to change the times.
This week the English FA said it has already decided that due to policing requirements the England-Israel match, set to be played at the new Wembley Stadium on September 8, 2007, will be played at either 3:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. London time, where Shabbat ends at 8.24 p.m.
Scharf told The Jerusalem Post that Israel never played on Shabbat in the eight years he was head coach of the national team, from 1992 to 2000,
"I think Itche Menahem should resign if he cannot arrange for the game to be played after Shabbat," Scharf said.
This is an interesting subject as there are definitely two good arguments for and against this opinion.
For: That Israel is a Jewish nation and when its sporting teams are involveed in such a major sporting event, every Israeli citizen should have the chance to see it.
Against: At the moment the majority of regular local football games are played on Shabbat.
However, there is an effort among Premier League players to have league games moved to weekdays, led by Maccabi Haifa's right-back Alon Harazi. Although the Shabbat is the perfect time to play and attend sporting events, it also means that those who are traditional, but not necessarily observant, have to play or attend on Shabbat when they would rather not.
Also, as opposed to a local team that you can choose to support or not, the national team is supposedly for all of its citizens.

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