Passover No Obstacle for Israeli Player on English Soccer Team on Verge of Historic Promotion to Premier League
A second-tier English soccer team is on the verge of a historic promotion to the Premier League, partly due to the contributions of two Israeli players.
The roster of Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. features two Israeli nationals — 29-year-old striker Tomer Hemed, a Jew, and 28-year-old central midfielder Beram Kayal, a Muslim. Both are products of the Maccabi Haifa youth system and play on Israel’s national team.
Brighton — which is owned by British Jewish multi-millionaire Tony Bloom — currently sits in first place in the English Football League (EFL) Championship with just four matches remaining. Each year, the top two teams in the final standings move up to the Premier League and the next four square off in a playoff round for a third promotion spot.
In an interview with The Argus newspaper published on Friday, Hemed — who has tallied 11 league goals this season so far — explained the effects of the Passover dietary restrictions on him as a player.
“Most things I can eat,” he said. “It’s just yeast. I cannot eat bread or kinds of pasta. These are very important days for Jewish people and it’s important for me also.”
“If I could eat nothing it would be more difficult,” he continued. “The things that I can’t it’s only for one week. I’m sure it will not affect my quality in training or the games.”
On Friday, Hemed played 84 minutes in Brighton’s 2-0 road victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. Brighton’s plays again during Passover on Monday, at home against Wigan Athletic, F.C.
Hemed told The Argus about the role his religion plays in his life. “Every Friday evening I visit the synagogue,” he stated. “But of course when we are playing away on a Friday it’s impossible.
“Everyone knows it is for a good reason,” he went on to say. “Most of the people in the synagogue and the Jewish community support the team. Every time they see me they ask about me. They really want the team to go up. They come to watch games as well. I’m happy also to represent them at the club and make them happy at the end of the season.”
Earlier this year, as reported by The Algemeiner, Hemed displayed his religious and national pride with a unique haircut he showed off on social media.
“Always representing #starofdavid #jewish #israel #proudtobejewish #bhafc,” Hemed tweeted.
— Tomer Hemed (@tomerhemed10) February 26, 2017