(JNi.media) There will be soccer league games in Israel this Shabbat, despite a ruling by Labor Court Judge Ariela Glitzr Katz to the contrary. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced that the policy of ignoring Shabbat labor laws regarding soccer—practiced for more than 50 years in Israel—will continue. In other words, should the teams violate Israel’s labor laws and play this Shabbat, government inspectors will continue to avoid serving them with summonses.
In an interview on Army Radio, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehude), criticized Attorney General Weinstein’s ruling, that there is no reason not to hold a soccer game on Shabbat. “If Weinstein were to say the same thing about any other topiv, there would have been a great outcry in response.”
On Tuesday, Israel’s Football Association’s management confirmed that it would not play on the day of rest without the authorization of the Ministry of the Economy. Economy Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) was not available to extend the league the needed permit absolving them of the requirement to observe Shabbat.
The hullabaloo began when Israel’s professional players’ union demanded to move all league games to weekdays, arguing they wished to spend the holy day of rest with their families, like the rest of the Jewish people. That reversed a practice that some say dates back to the first word war. Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) said on Wednesday that “we need to reach a compromise between the association, the management, the Ministry of Culture and the teams. Fromt the start, I told the leaders of the Association that some in the Knesset wanted to pass such a law, but we couldn’t make it happen. Now they will have no choice but to be flexible.”
Weinstein’s decision only absolves the football teams from the threat of administrative criminal sanctions. Players, individually or in a class action suit, can still seek remedy from the teams or the players’ union in civil court. The defendants would in turn appeal to the Labor Court for an injunction against holding the games on Shabbat. It was precisely such a petition which has been was filed—and removed in the meantime—which began the entire controversy.