West Ham supports Grant’s in missing match on Yom Kippur

English soccer club respects manager's decision to miss game because of fast day observance.

September 15, 2010 01:23
3 minute read.

Avram Grant 311. (photo credit: AP)

West Ham United is fully supporting Avram Grant’s decision to miss next Saturday’s game, which clashes with Yom Kippur.

The English Premier League soccer club said that it will respect Grant’s decision not to travel to Stoke on September 18.

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“It’s a personal matter and whatever he decides will be respected,” a club spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.

West Ham’s co-chairman David Gold, who also has Jewish ancestry, said also that he would respect Grant’s position.

“It is difficult to stand in the way of religious conviction,” Gold said. “Religion is a very personal thing and, much as I would like Avram to be at every game, I would respect his decision.

“It’s like a player who wants to miss a game to be at the birth of his child – no matter how much his teammates might need him on the pitch, it’s hard to stand in his way of something which is so important in his personal life,” he said.

Gold said that if his grandparents were still alive, they would not have gone to a game on Yom Kippur.

“Personally, I believe it is possible to fulfill both your religious obligations and your work obligations, but it’s not so easy to do both if you are absolutely devout,” Gold added.

The story has been widely covered in the British press. All reminded readers West Ham’s precarious position at the bottom of the Premier League, after losing all four of its first games of the new season.

The Daily Star reported last week: “The Hammers boss is a devout follower of the religion and would be required to observe a strict 25-hour fast from working, eating and even drinking water...the 55-year-old has watched his new side lose all three of their league games and faces former club Chelsea at Upton Park this weekend.”

“Hammers boss Grant, whose revamped side have yet to break their duck in the Premier League this season, is unlikely to travel to the Potteries on September 18 because it clashes with the Day of Atonement, the holiest date on the Jewish calendar,” The Mirror reported.

“Yom Kippur falls on 17-18 September and involves a 25-hour abstention from eating and working. West Ham have so far lost their opening three Premier League games and face the difficult visit of Chelsea, the champions, on Saturday. This raises the prospect of Grant’s team still being pointless and bottom going into the Stoke match,” said The Guardian.

In 2007, preparations for Grant’s first game as Chelsea manager were also interrupted by Yom Kippur. However he flew to game by helicopter after the observing the fast.

In 2006, goalkeeper Dudu Aouate faced calls for his expulsion from the national side when he said he would play for his club, Deportivo La Coruna, on Yom Kippur.

It is not know if Tal Ben Haim, who plays for West Ham, will also not play next Saturday.

In related Major League Baseball news, Washington Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis plans to make his scheduled start Friday night at Philadelphia, the night of Yom Kippur.

“Your team expects you to do your job and not let your teammates down, and that’s the approach I take,” Marquis said early in the week.

Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Fame legend Sandy Koufax famously garnered headlines by declining to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series due to his observance of Yom Kippur.

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