Kicker Gives Adopted Home a Nod

By Marc Tracy

Published June 23, 2006, issue of June 23, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Though Israel is not among the 32 countries competing in the World Cup, Israeli soccer has not gone completely unrepresented at the quadrennial showdown now being contested in Germany.

Today, Ghana’s John Paintsil is playing for his native land, but under normal circumstances he plays for Hapoel Tel Aviv. And so, when it came time to celebrate Ghana’s shocking victory over the Czech Republic last week — first after a goal scored late in the game and then after the game was through — Paintsil waved an Israeli flag he had been hiding in his sock. “The fans [in Israel] always made me happy,” he explained later, “so I wanted to make them happy.”

And so he did. Hapoel Tel Aviv issued a statement expressing pride in its player, and a Jerusalem Post writer declared, “At last we have an ambassador for Israel who doesn’t care about politics.”

But not everyone was overjoyed. “Egyptians supported the Ghanaian team all the way until the 82nd minute, and regretted it after the Israeli flag,” one Egyptian paper said. Others in the Egyptian press suggested that Paintsil is a “Mossad agent,” that “an Israeli paid him to do it” or that he’s just “ignorant and stupid.” One commentator, writing in Egypt’s state-owned Al-Ahram, accused an Israeli coach of running a camp where Ghanaian players are brainwashed.

Two days after the flag waving, Ghanaian team spokesman Randy Abbey apologized, calling Paintsil’s act “naive.” Abbey insisted, “[Paintsil] did not act out of malice for the Arab people or in support of Israel.” FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, expressed no reservations.

Whatever the world’s verdict, Paintsil is sure to be welcomed back to Israel with open arms. “We have an Israeli at the World Cup,” beamed Ophir Pines-Paz, Israel’s sports minister. “John Paintsil’s gesture has warmed our hearts, and many Israelis have now become supporters of Ghana.”

As of press time, Ghana had not played its final game of the contest’s first round, which will determine whether or not the team will advance. We wish Paintsil the best of luck, but in this instance our allegiances are somewhat divided: Ghana will be playing the United States.






Find us on Facebook!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.