(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini said on Tuesday that all local soccer action will be suspended from next week should Economy Minister, Aryeh Deri not authorize the playing of matches on Saturday.
Tel Aviv Labor Court Judge Ariella Gilzer- Kats ruled two weeks ago that players can’t be forced to play during Shabbat after hundreds of players from local soccer’s lower divisions signed a petition demanding not to work during the Jewish day of rest. Gilzer-Kats ordered that National League matches should not be held on Saturday until the sides meet again in court to try and resolve the matter next Monday, although all Premier League action has gone ahead as scheduled over the past two weeks.
“The holding of soccer matches on Shabbat without approval from the Economy Minister is a criminal offense and I will not approve it,” said Gilzer-Kats.
The IFA and the Premier League directorate sent Deri a letter on Monday demanding that he approves their request to play on Shabbat or they will suspend all soccer action, including youth matches, indefinitely.
“The Judge made it clear that in the current situation it is a criminal offense to play on Shabbat and therefore we have asked the Economy Minister for a permit,” Eini said on Tuesday. “This doesn’t just affect the professional leagues. There are over 30,000 children who play soccer throughout the country on Shabbat. I don’t see how we will be able to continue and play on any day but a rest day."
“Matches are held from early morning until late at night. I have no problem not playing on Shabbat, but I don’t see how that is possible. The government needs to give us a permit, even a temporary one, so that we can then enter a real dialog on where soccer goes from here.”