Soccer on Shabbat

There is a law in Israel that employers cannot force employees to work on Shabbat. It is rarely enforced. However, in the last couple of weeks, a Labor Court judge ruled that because of that law, organizing or participating in soccer matches on Shabbat was illegal. The judge order the Israeli football association (IFA) to get a permit from the government.

Who is the minister responsible for giving the permit? None other than Economy Minister Aryeh Deri. (Deri is, among other things, orthodox, and the leader of an orthodox party taht would see one of its roles, for sure, as protecting the sanctity of Shabbat. Pretty ironical.)

Next up, some foot dragging.

That sound you can hear, is Deri scrambling around trying to find somewhere to hide…

Now, given the lack of a permit, the IFA is in something of a pickle. Having warned it would do so, the IFA carried out its threat and announced the cancellation of ALL soccer games over the weekend.

On the assumption that Deri will not be rushing forward to break Shabbat, the buck will have to be passed on up the line. To Bibi.

I expect there to be some hack of a solution put together, but the situation is a bit of a balagan, and there are several complicating factors. Among the many competing issues:

  • If there’s one place in the world where you can play (professional) sports other than on Shabbat, shouldn’t that be in Israel?
  • Is it time to switch to a ‘regular’ weekend of Saturday and Sunday?
  • What about Muslim players who do not want to play on Friday?
  • What about Christian players who do not want to play on Sunday?
  • Why upset the status quo? (See here.)
  • As well as the players, the interests of the fans and TV audience need to be taken into consideration.
  • Many leisure facilities remain open on Shabbat. Are they at risk?

Am I glad I don’t have to sort this mess out!