Israelis, secular and religious, oppose soccer matches on the Sabbath

The vast majority of Israelis prefer to move the Premier League soccer games to weekdays so that religious Jews can enjoy them as well. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

The majority of Israelis oppose holding the country’s Premier League soccer matches on Saturdays, according to a recent poll conducted by Israel’s Channel 20 News.

The poll results come as something of a surprise as most Israelis are secular and bitter disagreements in Israel often revolve around secular and religious issues. But when it comes to soccer at least it appears that a large majority (68%) agree — all Israeli citizens should have the chance to enjoy a game.

Religious Jews, who make up roughly 20 percent of Israel’s Jewish population, cannot attend soccer games on the Sabbath as they consider it a desecration of the day of rest.

About 30 percent of those polled opposed rescheduling the games to a day other than the Sabbath, as Saturday was their only day off.

Three percent said they didn’t care because the main games were already broadcast during the week or after the end of the Sabbath.

A Channel 20 commentator noted that the majority of soccer players also prefer to play during the weekdays and not on the Sabbath.

He says the situation in Israel’s Premier League involves not religious coercion, but a “secularist coercion against the majority of players.”