Israel at War: Sports Update Monday October 9, 2023 – Nat’l Team postponements, Stoudemire, Mazzulla

Oct 9, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

The sports situation in Israel is still reeling from the war with Hamas as more and more changes and postponements continue to litter the regularly scheduled events and programs.
The biggest update concerns the Israel National Soccer Team as UEFA has officially postponed the blue-and-white’s home game against Switzerland slated for this Thursday at Bloomfield Stadium in European Championship qualifying. In addition to the senior national team’s game, youth teams in the Under-21 and Under-17 categories have also had their matches pushed off as well.  While UEFA has not yet given the final word on Israel’s Euro 2024 game in Kosovo, that will also most likely be postponed until November as well.

“In light of the current security situation in Israel, UEFA has decided to postpone all matches scheduled in Israel in the next couple of weeks with new dates to be confirmed in due course,” UEFA said in a press release concerning the recent events.
“UEFA reserves a few more days to assess whether the European Qualifiers 2024 match Kosovo – Israel can take place on the originally planned date of 15/10 or requires postponement. UEFA will continue to closely monitor the situation and will remain in contact with all teams involved before making decisions on new dates and on potential changes to other upcoming fixtures.”
The Israel soccer league has postponed game scheduled for October 21-23 as has the second division. It is still unknown if Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa will be able to play their respective games in UEFA Conference League and Europa League respectively following the international break.
Israeli referees will not be officiating any UEFA matches coming up due to the situation as there are usually a number of referee teams that would normally be at various games during the international window.
Amare Stoudemire, former NBA All-Star and member of Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv came out with a strongly worded statement on Instagram calling Hamas cowards. The forward, who is also an Israeli citizen and studies Torah in the Holy Land on a regular basis said, “Hamas kidnapping children, putting them in cages, killing women, killing the elderly – That’s some coward S—. That’s cowardly.”
Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla had a number of strong remarks about the situation in Israel, “There’s nothing more important than knowing what people are going through. So what’s happening in Israel right now, there should be a lot of thoughts and prayers to those people. Being able to spend time there you don’t realize. There’s honestly a lot of stuff that goes on in our country. We’re not perfect, and there’s people that are hurt every day in our country.
“But when you look at the bigger picture when you spend time there, you see what people go through from minute-to-hour basis. You don’t realize the struggle that other people go through. So it’s hard knowing things are gonna happen this year that I’ll get asked about, and no one has asked me about that. So, I think it’s important that we build awareness to that.”
Mazzulla continued, “I went this past year and I went in 2016. It doesn’t matter what you are, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re Jewish or Christian, Israeli or Palestinian. They’re people and they go through a lot of dangerous times and situations. Our country is 400 years old and they’ve been going through suffering for 10,000 years. You start to see the perspective of the world, and it’s a really, really tough area to be. So I think we should all be aware of that.”
Red Star Belgrade’s Israeli head coach Barak Bachar along with his assistant Guy Tzarfati and the other Israelis on his staff will be unable to depart Serbia and return to Israel during the upcoming international break. This past weekend, Bachar managed his club’s game wearing a black wristband to signify the devastating attacks.
Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois who is married to Israeli Mishel Gerzig took to social media and posted, “I am deeply saddened by the current situation. My heartfelt love and support go out to my friends and family in Israel, with the hope that this nightmare will come to an end soon.”
Gymnast Artem Dolgopyat who won a gold medal in the floor exercise at the World Championships in Antwerp has been unable to return to the country due to his flight being cancelled.
While many foreign coaches have left the country, Israel women’s national water polo team head coach Dimitris Mavrotas who is Greek is requesting to join the IDF and help in the battle with Hamas.
Former Maccabi Tel Aviv FC head coach Shota Arveladze who is Georgian spoke about the importance that the Israeli people are united, the loss of life and sends his best to the entire nation.
Niv Berkovitz who plays college soccer at Southern Methodist University scored a goal and said it was one of the most emotional moments of his life while also thanking his coaches and teammates for keeping him same. 

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