UEFA Under-21 Championship

German shirts say the team is ‘at home’ in Israel

Players pay tribute to their hosts as they take the field on day 2 of soccer tournament

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

German’s under-21 squad will wear special shirts dedicated to Israel as it warms up for its match against Holland’s team Thursday, in a tribute to the tournament’s host country.

The shirts read “we feel at home” in Hebrew, and wearing them is a rare move by a visiting country in an international tournament. UEFA’s Under-21 Championship is the most prestigious sporting competition to be hosted by Israel since the 1968 Paralympics.

At a pre-game press conference, international midfielder Lewis Holtby spoke warmly of the welcome the German team received in Israel. “The hospitality in Israel is great, the weather is better than in England or Germany,” he said, adding his club, Tottenham Hotspur, had a Jewish background, which made the experience “interesting.”

On the Dutch side, coach Cor Pot said his team was prepared and excited for the match. “We know Germany very well and they know us very well because the technology is of such a high standard nowadays, that you can see everything about your opponents on video. There will be no surprises.”

The German uniform (photo credit: courtesy)
The German uniform (photo credit: courtesy)

Despite political pressure from pro-Palestinian activists to move the games away from Israel, the tournament, one of the most prestigious soccer events in the world, kicked off Wednesday.

The opening night’s games in group A yielded a disappointing 2-2 draw between Israel and Norway, as well as a 1-0 victory for Italy over England.

Group B is made up of Germany, Holland and Russia along with Spain, the reigning champions who are considered a heavy favorite to win the tournament for a second time in a row.

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