Israel Soccer League Ends Ban on Kippahs

Observant Players Protested Prohibition on Skullcaps

Goal Guy: Israeli soccer star Itay Schechter celebrates a goal in 2010. The country’s lower leagues ended a ban on wearing yarmulkes during games after protests.
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Goal Guy: Israeli soccer star Itay Schechter celebrates a goal in 2010. The country’s lower leagues ended a ban on wearing yarmulkes during games after protests.

By JTA

Published January 03, 2014.
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Israel’s soccer association suspended its ban on wearing kippot for its minor leagues following protests by athletes and politicians.

The regulation had been handed down by the Union of Soccer Referees in recent weeks, according to a report Friday by Army Radio. The union said it was hewing to the rules of the FIFA International Soccer Association.

“Until the end of the season, the status quo will remain for lower lower leagues, and any observant player who chooses to play with a kippah will be able to do so,” Israel’s Soccer Association on Friday said in a statement. The association did not specify its policy on major league games.

The announcement followed protestations by several soccer players and cabinet minister Uri Orbach.

“The regulation against wearing head-coverings is stupid,” Orbach, Israel’s minister for pensioner’s affairs who himself wear a kippah, said in an interview Thursday on Army Radio.

Israeli media reported on the new regulation after a player from Jaffa, Yair Cohen-Tzedek, protested against the prohibition. According to Army Radio, he has asked teammates from Maccabi Kabilio Jaffa and fans to all wear kippot at future matches as a sign of solidarity with his campaign to have the new regulation scrapped.

A spokesman for the referees union told Army Radio that league matches are conducted according to FIFA regulations, which determine what players may wear on the field. No head gear of any kind is on the list.

“If FIFA issues a different regulation, we will act accordingly,” the spokesperson said.


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