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Israel goalkeeper Dudu Awat revealed on Thursday that he plans to play on Yom Kippur for his Spanish team, Deportivo La Coruna, prompting protests from relgious groups.
Deportivo's Spanish Premier League match against Real Sociadad is scheduled for 8 p.m. central European time next Sunday, 20 minutes after the fast begins in Spain.
"I hope the match will be brought forward to Saturdayâ€¦ but if it will be held on Sunday I will play anyway," Awat told Spanish newpaper AS.
The Israeli is still planning to fast and said, "If for example Yom Kippur begins at seven o'clock and the match starts at the same time, I will move the start of the fast a little and start it at nine o'clock. Anyway I will fast for 24 hours."
Shas MK Yaacov Ben Margi sent a letter to Israel Football Association chairmanm Itzhak "Iche" Menahem requesting that the goalkeeper be expelled from the team.
"The national team is supposed to represent the state of Israel," Ben Margi wrote. "Anybody who plays on Yom Kippur is not worthy of representing the country."
But IFA deputy chairman Avi Luzon came to the defense of Awat and responded, "Every man is free to live his life the way he chooses. I can't force him not to play."
Awat spoke to Army Radio on Thursday evening expressing his annoyance at the reaction in Israel to his decision.
"I wish that all the people who are talking would do what I do," he said.
"They should stop talking nonsense. I refuse to comment on this matter."
This year will not be the first time Awat's playing career has been affected by Yom Kippur.
"One year we had an away match on the weekend of Yom Kippur and Yossi Benayoun and I traveled a day earlier than the team so we could fast together and then play as usual after Yom Kippur had ended."
Awat described the fast in the interview saying, "There are no cars on the roads in Israel on this day, and everything is closed.
"But it's only for one day in the year. It's easier than the Ramadan that lasts an entire month."
When asked what he plans to do on Yom Kippur, the keeper said, "sleep, read and maybe play soccer."
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