Israel to play Euro 2012 games on Shabbat

By Simon Griver, April 15, 2010

Israel will play some Euro 2012 qualifiers at Ramat Gan on Friday nights, angering the country's religious community, the JC can reveal.

Israel FA spokesman Gil Lebanony said: "We have no choice. Uefa has dictated the games must be played on Fridays and our opponents have not agreed to switch them to Saturday nights."

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said: "This violates the status quo. The national team belongs to the nation." New National Religious Party MK Uri Orbach said he plans formulating legislation which will stop Israel from playing home matches on Shabbat. But Lebanony said: "If there is legislation then there is nothing we can do. We must decide if we want to be part of the international football family."

He denied that the matches were being played on evenings rather than daytimes because of a TV rights deal with a German firm. He said: "It's not practical to play during the day because the games take place when the winter clock is in effect and Shabbat starts early."

Last updated: 10:24am, October 11 2010