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August 14, 2013 8:58 am

Israel’s Davis Cup Team Fined 10,000 Euros for Refusing to Play on Yom Kippur

avatar by Yossi Goldstein

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The International Tennis Federation (ITF) logo. Photo: ITF.

In the world of organized sports, religion and athletics can often collide. The Israeli female lacrosse team, for example, recently announced it would skip an international tournament rather than play on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Now Israel’s Davis Cup team has run into trouble by refusing to participate in a playoff match against Belgium on September 14 – the day of Yom Kippur, the holiest date in the Jewish calendar.

The Belgium Tennis Association originally refused Israel’s request for a postponement, until the International Tennis Federation (ITF) – which sponsors the Davis Cup – stepped in and forced a change.

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“For a long time, the Belgian tennis union refused to recognize our basic need to avoid playing on Yom Kippur,” Israel Tennis Association Chairman Asi Touchmair wrote in a letter quoted by Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper. “It was only after the ITF intervened” that the game was postponed.

However, the ITF demanded Team Israel pay a 10,000 Euro fine to the Belgians for the inconvenience of postponing the match.

“The high penalty deals a detrimental blow to our budget and professional program,” Touchmair explained in a statement on the association’s website. “As an institution representing the State of Israel and its values, we’re proud to stand against all those who refuse to recognize the importance of traditions for the Jewish people.”

It’s surprising to see that, in today’s day and age, after Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax sat out in the 1930s and 1965 World Series respectively, we still live in a society where religious belief isn’t respected without reprimand.

The Israelis, with any luck, will make the Belgians pay on the tennis court and push forward into the next round of the tournament – if, for nothing more than, to prove the fine levied against them was worthwhile.

I await September 15th, the new date for the match with glee.

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  • Geez lots of anger here. Is it so bad that people live in a way that they wish? Yom Kippur has been a holy day for the jewish people for thousands of years not just for a few. You need to let go of the hate already guys.

  • Stan

    Jews still live by ancient, primitive religious nonsense? Grow up! It’s the 21st century.

  • cc the man

    I bet they would not do this to a Muslim team on an Islamic holiday.

  • Deborah Broidy

    I wonder…would the ITF fine the Belgian Davis Cup team if they wanted to postpone a game on Christmas? Or Easter?

    Would they even schedule a game on one of the most holy Christian faith days?

    Shame on you Belgium Tennis Association for protesting the change in the first place, and shame on you ITF for posting a fine for something like this…

  • Shalom-Hillel

    What a callous display of ill-will by the Belgian association. The Israeli team should not be paying a fine. This reminds me of the attitude of the Olympic committee towards Jewish concerns. The ITF is wrong in fining Israel. It’s a slap in the face to the worldwide Jewish community, and I will not forget it.

  • Rick Brandt

    Everyone knows that this is the most important day for Israel. Dont set them up to play on that day.

  • Asher Garber

    I am sure ITF fined Sweden for forcing Israel to play in an empty, fortified stadium because of the anti-Semites in Malmo threatening Israeli lives……

    You know, Whole Wide World, if you weren’t full of hypocritical dingbats, this could be a lovely place.

  • Surly

    It would be wise of Israel to sue the ITF for Human Rights Violations. This is a blatant act by the Belgian’s and the ITF. You can be sure that there are no games scheduled for Easter mornings nor Christmas day.

  • J Rosner

    Good for the Israeli women; So for 10,000 Euros the world will know what Yom Kippur is. Perhaps in the future they will respect the Yom Tov.