Austria Soccer Champions League Tel Aviv

Itay Schechter celebrating with his kippah

DUTCH football club Vitesse Arnhem have been called ‘cowardly’ after their defender Dan Mori was refused entry into the UAE for being Israeli. While the Dutch side obviously aren’t the ones at fault here, they did nevertheless continue with their mid-season training camp to Abu Dhabi. The rest of the squad arrived on Sunday, minus Mori, who stayed at home to train with the reserves – and it was that decision which led them to being branded ‘cowardly’. While the Dutch FA (KNVB) refused to get involved, saying “it’s a political question”, the Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said: “Vitesse should have said in principle that ‘this is our team and you must accept all of us or we will not travel’. That applies also to the KNVB.” The club obviously weren’t happy with the situation, with spokeswoman Esther Bal saying: “We are upset that we have become part of a political struggle and afterwards we will seek to take this matter up with FIFA. Both the United Arab Emirates and Israel are members of FIFA and in this sense it is strange that a footballer should be shut out of a training camp. We are a football team and not a political party.” Whether they went or not should have been taken out of their hands. The World and European football governing bodies, UEFA and FIFA, should have ordered them to not travel to the Arab state, and punished the UAE FA accordingly for the policies of their government. Let’s wait and see what sanctions are handed out to the UAE, which will be an indication as to how serious football’s governing bodies are in kicking racism out of football.

BARELY a month after all Sunday morning Maccabi footballers were sent kippot, officials at the Israeli FA have said lower-league players can now cover their heads while they play. And on the back of that, history was made in the States when Aaron Liberman made a last-minute appearance in the Northwestern Wildcats 74-51 win over Michigan, the first time a kippah had ever made it onto a basketball Big Ten Conference court.