With restrictions being loosened around the country and many industries getting back to work, Israeli sports are also in the spotlight as many disciplines have returned to training and practice.
Israel Soccer is back in business as the Ministry of Health approved a plan presented by the Israel Professional Football League together with the Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev. Teams from the Premier League will resume league action on May 30th while the 2nd division will return to the pitches around the country on June 1st.
The Israel State Cup will also get back to action on June 9th and 10th with the semifinal matchups between Hapoel Beer Sheva and Bnei Yehuda in one and Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Tel Aviv in the other.
“This is great news for sports fans and soccer fans,” said Regev. “The Premier League is back in action after the Prime Minister complied with my request and approved the outline that was formulated to resume the league. Under the terms agreed between the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the IPFL and the Ministry of Health, teams will return to training on May 10th and the league will resume on May 30th.
I’m glad that we were able to overcome all the obstacles and there were many. This is great news for fans, players and Israeli sports enthusiasts in general. As I said, the league will be decided on the field of play.”
Players will need to go into isolation beginning on May 10th until the end of the season and will only be permitted to leave their homes for training sessions and games. The referees will be in quarantine as well until the league comes to a conclusion.
In addition, when the players arrive at their training facilities they will have their temperature taken, sign off on a heath waiver and be examined by a doctor. Should a player or staff member be infected with the COVID-19 the entire team will need to go into a 14 day quarantine.
“I want thank everyone who helped soccer return to the fans,” stated IPFL Chairman Erez Halfon. “Soccer is loved by some many and now hundreds of thousands of fans will be able to watch their favorite clubs on TV. I am eagerly awaiting the resumption of the league later this month.”
Many teams released statements of support about soccer’s return including Maccabi Tel Aviv who thanked the IPFL and the various legal authorizes for their effort and hard work while also understanding that there is still challenges ahead and a long way to go until the players take to the field and fans can safely return to the stadiums. However, this is a good first step towards that goal.
Hapoel Beer Sheva CEO Asi Rahamim also praised the parties who aided in bringing back soccer which will also get life back on the right track.
“I applaud the decision to bring both professional leagues back into action,” declared Israel Football Association Chairman Oren Hasson. “We have said all along that everything has to be done to ensure that the leagues are decided in a sporting way and it is important that this will be the case.”
While there is good news on the soccer fields, the same can not be said about basketball. Numerous meetings were held this past week but serious issues remain from both sporting and financial standpoint.
Israel Basketball League Chairman Shmuel Frankel stated that if the league will be given the green light to resume they would expect that the Ministry of Health will also sign off on the return of fans to the stands just as they are doing for other cultural and social events.
Should fans not be permitted to attend games when the 2020/21 season is to begin, the league will not return to courts across the country if there isn’t some sort of financial compensation from the State.
While the Health Ministry may approve the plan that was presented by the league last week, there are a number of stumbling blocks including the return of over 40 foreign players primarily from the United States. Israel currently isn’t allowing non citizens to enter the country and these players fall under that category.
The Israel Basketball Association made the decision to hold summer leagues for both men and women should the top division not return to play. Players would be drafted and then split into teams in order to give them a chance to stay in shape. One of the teams would be the Under-20 Israel National Team who are back to back European Champions.
Other sports including those in water have begun to ramp up as have various Olympic sports as the many restrictions have been lifted. Gyms and fitness centers have also opened back up adhering to Ministry of Health guidelines as well. However, there is still a long way to go in many of these arenas.