An Israeli soccer player sat out the first half of his English team’s game Wednesday evening due to the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur, his coach said.
“As an Israeli, he follows the Jewish religion meticulously, and today is Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement,” Queens Park Rangers manager Steve McClaren told reporters before the game when asked why star striker Tomer Hemed would not start.
McClaren said he spoke with Hemed, who told him it would be difficult to play while fasting for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
“It’s very unusual because [Yom Kippur] hardly falls on a game day but it has this time and we’re hoping to get some food into him in the first half, keep him on the bench and if we need him the second half he can play some minutes,” McClaren said.
Amazing. Steve McClaren says Israeli player Tomer Hemed was kept on the bench at the start of QPR vs Milwall because it was Yom Kippur and he was fasting. The fast ended during the game so he had a drink and came on pic.twitter.com/52MEQ6xfo1
— Raoul Wootliff (@RaoulWootliff) September 20, 2018
Hemed came on in the second half of Queens Park Rangers 2-0 win over Millwall after eating some bananas and pasta, according to The Daily Mail.
Hemed, one of the team’s top players, is currently on loan from Premier League squad Brighton & Hove Albion. Queens Park Rangers plays in the English Football League Championship, the second-tier English soccer league.
Before the start of the fast on Tuesday evening, Hemed posted a photo of himself in a prayer shawl and phylacteries wishing his followers a gmar hatima tova, the traditional greeting ahead of Yom Kippur.
Gmar chatima tova! ????✍???? pic.twitter.com/Wv9qfA1STW
— Tomer Hemed (@tomerhemed10) September 18, 2018
Though not Jewish, McClaren has his own ties to Israel, having served as a coaching consultant for soccer club Maccabi Tel Aviv last year.