High Profile Football Teams Descending on Israel

The off-season is a time for football (soccer) teams to go around the world and play in front of their adoring fans. Typically, America, Australia, South-East Asia were the most popular destinations but could it be that Israel is added to the mix?

In the next week or so, 6 high-profile teams will be in the Holyland for matches. 

On July 30, Tottenham Hotspur plays Roma in Haifa. These two huge European sides playing together at any time would be a big deal but that it’s Jose Mourinho coming up against his old team makes it extra special. Roma are also fresh off winning their first European trophy – the Europa Conference League. 

On July 31, the French Trophée des Champions is happening in Tel Aviv. This is where the winner of Ligue 1 plays the winner of the Coupe de France. In this case its star-studded league winners PSG against cup winner Nantes. 

A week later on August 7, Juventus plays Atlético Madrid in a friendly. 

What’s changed that teams of this stature are coming to Israel?

First it’s perception. The view that Israel is a dangerous place to visit is a fiction.

Secondly, people are seeing BDS for what it’s worth – a lot of hot air. When sporting teams are incredibly particular and careful about their brand, it is a risk for them to go to a place where people claim there is apartheid and the like. 

The media’s role in all this is interesting. BDS tries to convince said act not to come to Israel. The media report on this giving these attempts publicity. Many people who had no idea about this pile on and it becomes a bigger thing. It moves to social media and said person/group feels overwhelmed and that there’s too much pressure.

What they don’t realize is that it’s all just white noise. 

It’s very easy to conflate Israel with the sporting boycott of Russia and the LIV Golf tour but this is just lazy opportunism.

These teams coming here isn’t a political statement, but just a game of football. We wish them to be entirely uneventful so we can get to the more important issues such as shouting at the referee.  

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David Wiseman

David Wiseman is the co-founder of Follow Team Israel, a Facebook page devoted to sharing the stories of Israeli sport to the world. It's the premier source of news about Israeli sport in English. https://www.facebook.com/FollowTeamIsrael