Members of Israel’s national soccer team apologized Wednesday for laughing during a lecture the day before on the murder of Hungarian Jewry by the Nazis.
Some players tittered during a talk in Budapest, one day before the team’s friendly match against Hungary, the Sport Channel reported on Wednesday.
While officials in the Israeli Football Association tried to downplay the incident, coach Eli Guttman scolded his players for their behavior during the talk. Members of the team must respect their uniform even when off the field, Guttman told his players.
According to the report, a number of players blamed the laughter on the local interpreter. “We’re sorry if it looked like we were disrespectful,” one of the players told the Sport Channel, “but it wasn’t because of disrespect.”
One of the veteran team members stressed that not everyone had reacted inappropriately. “No one laughed because of the explanations of the Holocaust,” he said. The laughter was because of “a translator who spoke funny.”
Budapest’s Dohany Street Synagogue — the largest synagogue in Europe — was used as Jewish graveyard during Word War II, and today contains a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.