Fasting Israeli soccer player sits out part of Yom Kippur game
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Fasting Israeli soccer player sits out part of Yom Kippur game

Star striker Tomer Hemed brought on toward end of English team Queens Park Rangers’ 2-0 victory after gobbling down bananas and pasta at close of Day of Atonement

Tomer Hemed, foreground, then on Brighton & Hove Albion, is challenged by Middlesbrough's Ryan Shotton during the FA Cup, fourth round match between Brighton and Middlesbrough, at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, England, on January 27, 2018. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)
Tomer Hemed, foreground, then on Brighton & Hove Albion, is challenged by Middlesbrough's Ryan Shotton during the FA Cup, fourth round match between Brighton and Middlesbrough, at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, England, on January 27, 2018. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

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.

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.

Though not Jewish, McClaren has his own ties to Israel, having served as a coaching consultant for soccer club Maccabi Tel Aviv last year.

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