Football (Soccer) in Israel
Football (soccer) to Israelis is like American football or baseball to Americans. It's a lifestyle, a passion, a religion even! Much more than a pastime. The influence is said to come from Europe/South America if you're wondering how in the world this sport ended up in the Middle East.
Football is the most popular sport in Israel. There are 12 teams in the Premier League, and crowds at the stadiums can be up to 20,000 people! During these Corona times, it's safe to say the players are missing the crowds, and the fans are missing the games!
People are often born into their affiliation for a team based on their family -- and it usually doesn't switch. It's like the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees -- for those of you who know, you know it's an unbreakable devotion.
It's common in Israel to see kids kicking footballs up the road, or on the beach. If you look closely around the city, even the graffiti boasts of loyalty to one team or another.
There are now almost 20 Israeli players in the European clubs, and the number of Israelis being recruited internationally is increasing.
Just this year, Maccabi Tel Aviv was nominated to the Champions League!