Jewish & Arab Footballers in Israel as a Beacon of Tolerance – News Release

04 August 2017

New Initiative Showcases Jewish and Arab Footballers in Israel as a Beacon of Coexistence

The innovative ‘Team for Responsibility’ initiative of Kick It Out Israel is being launched in London on August 9th. Eleven players from Israel’s professional leagues and from all its diverse communities will form a national ‘Team for Responsibility’ and act as role models for coexistence. The launch is being spearheaded by the Brighton and Hove Albion FC duo, Baram Kayal and Tomer Hemed (an Israeli Arab and an Israeli Jew) and supported by the FA, UEFA and other leading football bodies. The initiative is one of the first of its kind anywhere.

• Next Wednesday, August 9, the ‘Team for Social Responsibility’ programme will be unveiled in London as the latest venture of New Israel Fund’s Let’s Kick Racism and Violence out of Israeli Football (KIO) campaign in partnership with the Israel FA and Israel Football Players Organisation (IFPO)

• The ‘Team for Social Responsibility’ will comprise 11 players (men and women) representing all Israel’s communities. The team will promote values of social and community responsibility, will take on the challenge of eliminating racism from the pitch, and work for joint living and coexistence.

• The launch event for the ‘Team of Social Responsibility’ in London will be with the participation of Brighton and Hove Albion FC’s Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal, and Brighton and Hove Albion FC’s Chairman Tony Bloom.

• Official partners of the programme are UEFA, FARE, FIFPro, and Kick It Out (England) while the English FA is also supporting the event. Speakers at the event include Paul Elliott CBE, Brendon Batson OBE and Patrick Barclay.

• The Team for Social Responsibility will be launched in Israel in the early months of the 2017/18 season.

Football in Israel provides shining examples of co-existence, with Jewish and Arab players regularly playing alongside each other. With more than 20% of players in Israel’s top leagues from the country’s Arab sector, football offers a unique example of equality for all, meritocracy and joint living. This side of Israeli football is often overshadowed by those nurturing racist views and a hatred of the other.

New Israel Fund’s Let’s Kick Racism and Violence out of Israeli Football (KIO) campaign in partnership with the Israel FA and Israel Football Players Organisation (IFPO) will present its innovative ‘Team for Social Responsibility’ venture at an event in central London on Wednesday (August 9). The ‘Team for Social Responsibility’ will be composed of 11 players (men and women) from all Israel’s professional leagues and representing all the country’s communities. The team’s members will serve as a forum for encouraging football players to show social responsibility, promote dialogue, and values of equal opportunity, joint living and coexistence. At the start of the 2017/18 season the players will be presented in Israel at a media event.

The venture will be unveiled by NIF’s KIO Israel and its partners the Israel FA and IFPO (Israeli Players’ Association). Also present will be a range of football organisations and their representatives from England, Europe and worldwide. There will be two panel discussions with participants including Brighton’s Premier league stars Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal, who as best friends on and off the pitch serve as role models for joint living. Also speaking on the panels will be Oshrat Eini (leading Israeli women’s player), Imaya Taga (leading men’s player from Ethiopian-Israeli community) and IFPO chairman Maor Buzaglo (and international player), who will talk about how, as role models with a huge influence on society and especially young fans, they plan to deepen their involvement with their communities. The venture will continue to deepen the involvement of the players and encourage them to speak out against racism and violence and to promote joint living between all communities in Israeli society.

Other speakers on the panels at the London event will include Brighton and Hove Albion FC Chairman Tony Bloom, former player Paul Elliott CBE, Chair of the FA Inclusion & Advisory Board and UEFA Fair Play & Social Responsibility Committee, former player and PFA official Brendon Batson OBE, KIO England CEO Roisin Wood, former Israel goalkeeper Boni Ginzburg and UK journalist Patrick Barclay. The event will also be attended by FARE Executive Director Piara Powar, FIFPro European VP Tony Higgins, Israel FA Head of Communications Shlomi Barzel, IFPO President Nir Alon and NIF Israel Executive Director Mickey Gitzin.

“The players who will serve on the Team for Social Responsibility will be chosen according to criteria encompassing their views against racism and discrimination in stadium, and their community-level activities which can inspire the younger generation” stated KIO Israel Director, Itzik Shanan.  He explains: “in recent years, there has been a growing trend of involvement by football players in social responsibility. There is a consensus today in Israeli football opposing racism. It is clear that Israeli football is benefiting from an environment that embraces equality and tolerance both in the stands and on the pitch. The aim of the Team for Social Responsibility is to showcase to the Israeli public that their footballing heroes are role models for a society where football is not only a place where racism flourishes but can be a place for solidarity between the different sectors of Israeli society and a place for multicultural expression. There must be no place for racism.”

For further details contact:

Adam Ognall, Chief Executive New Israel Fund, 07813 851 821 adam@uknif.org

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