Wiyam Amashe 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Wiyam Amashe does not want to be an Israeli, but he wants to play for the Israel
Sounds complicated? Well, it is.
striker has set the Premier League on fire so far this season, scoring seven
goals in eight matches, leading high-flying Ironi Kiryat Shmona to a four-week
run at the top of the standings.
Amashe’s talent was evident from an
early age, but up until this season he was just another name on the neverending
list of promising players who fail to fulfill their potential.
everything has seemingly fallen into place for the striker this season, with
Amashe displaying his sensational speed, surprising strength and fantastic
finishing in front of the goal on a weekly basis.
Amashe’s form also
caught the attention of Israel coach Luis Fernandez, who was keen to hand him
his first call-up to the national team.
Everything looked to be set for
Amashe to make his debut in the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Croatia and Greece
last month, everything but a passport.
Amashe was born and raised in
Buq’ata in the northern Golan Heights, a Druze town of approximately 6,000
residents. Buq’ata was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and has been
administrated by Israeli law since the Knesset passed the Golan Heights Law in
However, the Druze reacted with fury to the Knesset’s decision,
with the community leaders imposing a socio-religious ban on Israeli citizenship
and holding a five-month general strike.
It is estimated that fewer than
10 percent of the Golan Druze are currently Israeli citizens, with the majority
of locals choosing instead to hold onto their Syrian citizenship.
wasn’t born until 1985, but the events of 29 years ago leave him with an
impossible dilemma at a pivotal point in his career.
Amashe played for
Israel’s under-19 and under-21 national teams, traveling abroad with a Travel
Document which requires him to receive a visa from any country he
However, international soccer’s governing body FIFA has since
changed its laws, requiring players to hold full citizenship and a passport of
the country they represent.
As much as he would like to play for Israel,
Amashe has no intention of requesting citizenship as he says it will result in
him being excommunicated from his community.
“I might play for the
national team for a year or two, but I will then suffer for the rest of my
life,” Amashe has said. “My family and I will be excommunicated, no one will
want to marry my relations and my children will suffer as well.”
Golan Druze also demonstrate their independence from Israel through soccer,
running a 10-team league of their own, in which locals with soccer aspirations
are encouraged to play.
Even joining Kiryat Shmona’s youth team as a
teenager was far from simple for Amashe. His father had to get special
permission from local sheikhs before allowing Wiyam to play for an Israeli
Unrelenting injuries had Amashe considering retirement at one
stage, but his hard work has paid off in recent months and his coach Ran
Ben-Shimon believes he is the second-best striker in the country, after Hapoel
Tel Aviv’s Itai Shechter.
Several years ago Amashe turned down an
approach from the Syrian national team saying he wants to remain with his family
in the Golan.
However, he has also ruled out applying for Israeli
citizenship, leaving him in an unenviable quandary.
Amashe still holds
out hopes of getting special dispensation from FIFA that will allow him to play
for Israel even without a passport to his name. However, as things currently
stand, it seems highly unlikely he will ever play for the national
Politics and sports should never mix. Sadly, sometimes they
inevitably do, typically leaving a trail of frustration and sense of beguilement
for all those involved.