Anti-racist Jerusalem soccer team wins place in pro leagues
search

Anti-racist Jerusalem soccer team wins place in pro leagues

Biggest-ever crowd sees ambitious, fan-owned Hapoel Katamon score 9 to clinch top spot in its division

Hapoel Katamon supporters celebrate promotion to the second league Liga Leumit, May 3, 2013. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Hapoel Katamon supporters celebrate promotion to the second league Liga Leumit, May 3, 2013. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem, the first soccer team in Israel to be owned entirely by its fans, made history on Friday by gaining promotion to Liga Leumit, the National League, Israel’s second division.

Katamon went a goal up in the very first minute and easily overcame bottom-of-the league Lod 9-1 to clinch top spot in Liga Aleph Darom (Third Division South).

In truth, the score line could have been much higher. But when news came through that Katamon’s only rival for the top slot that guaranteed promotion, Maccabi Jaffa, was struggling in its match against lowly Kfar Yona, Katamon slipped down a gear in order not embarrass Lod too much. (Jaffa ultimately prevailed 3-2, but that scoreline was not good enough to keep Katamon from becoming the division champion.)

All the tension had come ahead of the game with a dramatic announcement by the Lod chairman on Thursday night that his team, which hadn’t trained for 2 months and hadn’t received salaries for weeks, would fail to show up.

In the end the managers and players, following extreme pressure from the Israel Football Association, defied their chairman, and decided at the last minute to travel to Jerusalem. Never had this reporter seen a team so enthusiastically applauded merely for turning up.

As the goal tally increased, the East Stand at the capital’s Teddy Stadium rocked with noisy enthusiasm from Katamon’s fanatical supporters celebrating the team’s promotion to the professional leagues. More than 6,000 fans had turned up — by far the biggest attendance ever for a game in Israel’s lower divisions.

Less than six years after being established by a small group of fans, Katamon — with its goal of providing an alternative for Jerusalem’s soccer-loving public, built on fan-power, anti-racism and community outreach — will now take its place in Liga Leumit in the coming season. Its next ambition: making in into the top division — the Israeli Premier League.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments