Israeli soccer players apologize for laughing during Holocaust lecture
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Israeli soccer players apologize for laughing during Holocaust lecture

Members of national team giggle during talk at Budapest synagogue; it was the translation, not the content, says one

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Israel's soccer team at the Holocaust memorial at the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest, August 14 (photo credit: courtesy of the Israel Football Association)
Israel's soccer team at the Holocaust memorial at the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest, August 14 (photo credit: courtesy of the Israel Football Association)

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.

Israel's soccer team at a Budapest synagogue, August 14 (photo credit: courtesy of Israel Football Association)
Israel’s soccer team at a Budapest synagogue, August 14 (photo credit: courtesy of Israel Football Association)

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.

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