Fußball in Israel

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Die israelische Gesellschaft ist stark politisiert und das betrifft eben auch den Fußball. Maccabi, Hapoel und Beitar sind Namen von Sportvereinigungen, die eng mit der Geschichte Israels, der zionistischen Bewegung und seiner Gesellschaft verbunden sind. Auch wenn die Zuschauerzahlen nicht mit denen in Deutschland zu vergleichen sind, haben einzelne Teams eine große Anhängerschaft. Felix Tamsut ist ein in Deutschland lebender Israeli, der u.a. für die Deutsche Welle über Fankultur und Politik im deutschen Fußball berichtet. In der Podcastepisode berichtet der Journalist, welche politischen und gesellschaftlichen Realitäten des jüdischen Staates sich auch im Fußballsport und seiner Fankultur widerspiegeln.


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PaparazzoOrange schrieb am 27.10.2023 um 11:36 :


Die israelische Gesellschaft ist stark politisiert und das betrifft eben auch den Fußball. Maccabi, Hapoel und Beitar sind Namen von Sportvereinigungen, die eng mit der Geschichte Israels, der zionistischen Bewegung und seiner Gesellschaft verbunden sind. Auch wenn die Zuschauerzahlen nicht mit denen in Deutschland zu vergleichen sind, haben einzelne Teams eine große Anhängerschaft. Felix Tamsut ist ein in Deutschland lebender Israeli, der u.a. für die Deutsche Welle über Fankultur und Politik im deutschen Fußball berichtet. In der Podcastepisode berichtet der Journalist, welche politischen und gesellschaftlichen Realitäten des jüdischen Staates sich auch im Fußballsport und seiner Fankultur widerspiegeln.


Sehr interessant!

Mir persönlich lässt er aber seine politische Gesinnung zu sehr raushängen und das macht es anstrengend zum Zuhören mit der Zeit.

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bin nur hier zum prokrastinieren.

Großartiger, wichtiger Artikel:



für alle von hinter der paywall reinkopiert:


Hani Al-Masdar – The life and death of a football coach in Gaza

Jacob Whitehead
Jan 14, 2024



This is the story of just one man, but he is one of many.

He is wearing his coaching kit, a grey Adidas tracksuit lined with red, just as he did on every other day. But on this day, each corner of the tracksuit is held by one of four men, and it has been fashioned into a makeshift stretcher that is rushing him through the corridors of Gaza’s Al-Aqsa Hospital. A throng of concern is seen through his bearers’ arms.

Underneath lies a white jersey, the shirt of his local team. Blood from a neck wound stains its collar. His eyes are closed, his face is pale, and his mouth hangs open.

The photograph is too graphic to publish. By this point, Hani Al-Masdar — one of the greatest Palestinian footballers, and an assistant coach of the Olympic team — is already dead. He was 42.

Al-Masdar lived in the small village of Al-Musaddar in central Gaza. Just over one mile west is the city of Deir al-Balah, a hotspot of fighting in the Israel-Hamas war in recent weeks. One mile north is the Al-Maghazi refugee camp, which has tripled in size to 100,000 inhabitants, according to its mayor, since October 7.

That is the date on which Hamas militants led deadly terrorist attacks in Israel, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people and in response to which they launched airstrikes and a ground invasion.

Hani Al-Masdar and one of his sons after a coaching session (Photo from Al-Masdar family)

At the start of 2024, with Israeli soldiers sweeping south through Gaza, missile strikes moved to Al-Masdar’s area. Gaza is approximately the size of west London (or just a quarter of Rhode Island) and in such a small theatre of war, civilians are being killed at a pace with few precedents in this century. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, more than 23,000 inhabitants have died since October 7.

On January 6, a series of strikes was launched from Israel towards Deir al-Balah. The Associated Press reported that Al-Aqsa Martyrs received 46 bodies. One of those was Al-Masdar. According to several sources spoken to by The Athletic, he had never been affiliated to any political group.

Later, his friends will post tributes on social media, photos of him hours before the missile attack, smiling in his tracksuit in the passenger seat of a car.

“He knew only sports,” says Al-Masdar’s cousin, Ayman Al-Masdar. “He died in training kit.”

‘The level was different — but he was our Pirlo’

This is Al-Masdar’s story, but it is also the story of Gazan football, and that is a story that begins with Jaffa oranges. Named after the port city, near Tel Aviv, but exported across the coast, they possess a sweetness and stickiness; a flavour European buyers will pay for by the ton.

They were exported across the Mediterranean, and Gaza grew as trade grew. Its population swelled as the city ripened on the vine under Ottoman rule in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is still swollen today, the largest city in the Palestinian state, one of the most densely occupied in the world, cultivating a population centre that would become a footballing hotbed.

It continues with borders. After being separated from the landlocked West Bank following the Arab-Israeli War of 1948-49, and retaining hostilities with Israel, Gaza’s only other border was with Egypt. They leant closer to their southern neighbours. Egypt are seven-time winners of the African Cup of Nations and were the first Arab team to qualify for a World Cup. The knowledge of how to produce a footballer started to seep into Gaza; to this day, several of its most promising young players move to Egypt to begin their careers.

These were the conditions that Al-Masdar arrived into in 1981, dreaming of playing for a Palestinian side made up of Gazans, players from the West Bank, and members of the diaspora scattered across the hemispheres. But Gazans have always been the best footballers in the national team — and, for better, for worse, Al-Masdar was fated to be born one of them.

“My first memories with cousin Hani was when I was a kid,” says Ayman, some 10 years younger. He is the president of the local football club whom Al-Masdar previously helped to coach. “We live in Al-Musaddar, the village that was named after our family. It was mostly trees and green land.

“Nearby, there was a sand pitch, where all the biggest local players met. Hani was the youngest and the most skilful. I used to support him. His skills and technical ability drew the attention of everyone in the village, to the extent that people in the Al-Maghazi camp used to come and watch him.”


Whispers spread quickly within small confines such as Gaza. Al-Masdar’s idol was his father, who used to be a footballer in his younger years before giving it up to support his family, but it was his uncle Selim who was invited to take Al-Masdar to the local club, Khadamat Al-Maghazi, when he turned 16. He immediately earned his place in their starting midfield, despite being over half a decade younger than the majority of his team-mates.

By 18, Al-Masdar was starting for Gaza Sports Club.

“If you play for Gaza Sports, you’re playing for a club that is used to winning titles,” says Bassil Mikdadi, a Palestinian football expert. “It’s been there since 1934. Think of the changing conditions and rulers it has gone through. There’s a 90-year history.”

In Gaza, stories are traditionally told orally, and another started to emerge. Spectators talked of a teenager, who they called only “The Maestro”, who, even opposition players acknowledged, could make a free kick on the edge of the box feel like a penalty.


Later in his career, Al-Masdar, a Real Madrid supporter, would wear the No 7 shirt of his favourite player — Cristiano Ronaldo — but his fellow players were reminded of another footballer.

“His run-up would be just one step, and he’d curl it into the top corner,” says Omar Barakat, now another assistant coach with the Palestinian Olympic team. “It’s at a much lower level, obviously, but we’re speaking about Andrea Pirlo, there are glimpses. Pirlo is a better player — but Hani was our Pirlo. As a playmaker, he was so easy on the eye.”

Al-Masdar won trophies and, coming of age as Palestine gained FIFA status in 1998, began to play for his country. In 2003, his club lifted the Gaza Cup; a photo of Al-Masdar lifting the trophy as their 22-year-old captain was his profile picture on social media until he died.

Al-Masdar playing for Gaza Sports in his favourite No 7 jersey (Al-Masdar family)

As he aged, the nickname of “The Maestro” morphed into “Abu Al-Abd” — an affectionate address referencing his eldest son, Abdel Hakim, meaning “Abd’s father”. As a senior figure in Gazan football, colleagues and fans also began to call him “Captain Hani”.

“He was the link between the coach and the players, and even the board,” says Imad Hashem, a former team-mate at Gaza Sports who went on to coach Al-Masdar and manage the Palestinian beach soccer team. “A popular leader.”

Al-Masdar began to develop a reputation for mentoring young players — particularly Mohammed Saleh, a centre-back who played behind him and has since played for Egyptian side Al Ittihad Alexandria, who are third in their domestic league, and the Palestine national team.

“Across 10 years, I can’t remember him missing training — only once because of somebody’s death,” he says. “When we missed training, he would call us to check on us and reproach us but only for our benefit and that of the team.”

It meant that his next step was set in stone. After retiring in 2018, Al-Masdar became a coach — assisted by his best friend, Mohammed Ali Mohana, another defender at Gaza Sports. The pair played together for 12 years and were so close that they were married to a pair of sisters.

“Day after day, I became more attached to his loyalty, commitment, and generosity,” says Mohana. “I didn’t leave him for 20 years — even the day he died.”

Mohana was an assistant throughout Al-Masdar’s career, first as technical director at Gaza Sports, in charge of signing young players from smaller clubs before he took over as head coach at Ittihad Deir Al-Balah, then in the second division. The pair quickly got them promoted.

Al-Masdar and Mohana after promotion (Mohammed Ali Mohana)

“He used to love doing the rondo,” remembers Motez Rabee, another assistant at Deir al-Balah. “Warm-up, rondo, fitness, rondo. He loved being on the ball, all training was with the ball.”

Watching on, with Al-Masdar having excelled on Asian Football Confederation (AFC) courses, was Ihab Abu Jazar, a former adversary at rival club Shabab Rafah — now the coach of the Olympic football team, effectively Palestine’s under-23s. He pounced, making Al-Masdar an assistant.

“We used to play against each other, competing for titles,” says Abu Jazar. “He was a special player, disciplined and committed — so I chose him. He was efficient and had a vision. He read the game really well.”

Al-Masdar led individual training in camp, working with players on technique, with the other coaches responsible for team shape and tactics.

“He’d give you belief with words,” says Barakat, his fellow assistant, who gives Al-Masdar credit for developing Zaid Qunbar, a 21-year-old striker expected to start for the senior Palestine team at this month’s Asian Cup.

But with the Palestinian team geographically spread, Al-Masdar had another integral role.

“In Gaza, everything is isolated,” adds Barakat. “So he’d be a scout for Gazan players, because most matches aren’t televised, finding them and bringing them over to training camps.”

The role took him to every inch of Gaza’s 25-mile length, attending multiple matches each weekend. He was instantly recognisable.

The Olympic coaching staff, including Ibrahim Abu Madi (second left), Ihab Abu Jazar (centre), Hani Al-Masdar (third from right) and Omar Barakat (far right) (Omar Barakat)

“He was always smiling,” says Luis Shamshoum, a British-based goalkeeper for Palestine who has played for clubs such as Billericay Town, St Albans City, and Hashtag United. “I never saw him without a smile on his face.”

Al-Masdar went abroad on five different camps with the Olympic team, doing particularly well at the 2023 Under-23 West Asian Championships, where the side beat regional heavyweights Syria and drew with Iran — only failing to qualify for their first knockout stage after a last-minute Iran equaliser.

“He still played for the team in person, he was that good,” says Barakat. “You know when you’re missing a player and need someone to fill in? That was always Hani, even though he was not the youngest coach we had.”

“I used to watch his set-piece taking,” says Halid Alghoul, a Croatian-born forward who came through at Dinamo Zagreb. His brother, Muhamed, is effectively Al-Masdar’s successor in the national team at No 10. “He’d take players on after training — but Luis knows better because it was so hard for him to save them!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Shamshoum laughs. “He had an incredible strike on him. Once actually, in Jordan, he stood up right at the end of the session. One step, and he hit it right in the top corner. The whole group just went mental.”

‘To who the country, if I leave it?’

Life in Gaza had already been arduous before October 7, with limits on the entrance of people, goods, and services, and the risks of blasts amid fighting between Hamas and the Israeli military.

But in the months after, amid the intensification of Israeli bombardment, everything changed. Football instantly stopped — not just in Gaza but the West Bank also, and has not restarted — though international matches held abroad are still scheduled.

According to the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), 67 players have been killed in the last three months, along with 24 administrators and coaches. According to Rabee, that number includes two other players at Deir al-Balah, Al-Masdar’s most recent club.

Saeb Jendeya, another Gazan legend as Palestine’s first-ever captain, is currently homeless and living in a tent in the town.

Lior Asulin, a former Israeli professional footballer, was killed by Hamas militants in the October 7 attacks on the Re’im music festival.

“There has not been a single football stadium which hasn’t been struck by a missile or tank shell,” says Mikdadi. (The Athletic has not yet been able to verify this claim.)

The British news organisation Sky News has geolocated a video of detainees, being marched in their underwear by Israeli soldiers with guns, to the Yarmouk Stadium, the home ground of Gaza Sports. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says that the individuals were detained lawfully and treated in accordance with international law. Another picture, shared by the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) on January 9, shows a missile embedded in the turf of the International Stadium, the home of the national team.

Al-Masdar continued to work.

“He was offered a lot of jobs in the Palestinian government, but he declined because he wanted to focus on his passion: football,” says his cousin Ayman.

Al-Masdar had no time for politics. His fellow coaches in the Olympic team insist that it would have been impossible for him to ever have had any connection with Hamas, not only because of his belief in peace, but because of the upper management of the national teams — run from the West Bank — who are closely tied to the rival Fatah party.

“I’ve seen his phonebook,” says Hashem, his former team-mate and coach. “There are only sportspeople.”

Al-Masdar leading a coaching session with a local youth side (Facebook)

But amid these times, Al-Masdar still did what he could to help those suffering. He had grown up next to one of Gaza’s largest refugee camps and, as a high-profile figure, he had friends outside Gaza, including in Egypt.

“They contacted him, and said that they had collected donations for the needy in Gaza,” says Ayman. “They wanted him to distribute it because he knew everyone, and was a trustworthy person.

“He did what no institutes were doing in Gaza: he handed out meals, made tents for the refugees and distributed cleaning aid. We used to be afraid because of the situation, but he always said: ‘I want to deliver this aid even if it costs me my life. I was trusted to deliver this’.”

Muhammad Ghazi Al-Ghareeb is a Gazan photojournalist who knew Al-Masdar well, often invited to his home where the coach would cook for his players.

“He was always moving between the central governorate (Gaza City), Khan Yunis, and Rafah,” he remembers. “The last time I met him was just a few days ago in Rafah (on the Egyptian border) after he delivered a package to the displaced. I told him to stay there because of how serious the situation was in Al-Maghazi.

“He refused, and said: ‘To who the country, if I leave it?’. He didn’t care about the risks from bombing or gunfire.”

But Al-Masdar’s players already knew the character of the man.

“Maybe you’re not familiar with this,” explains Barakat. “But leaving Gaza, to anywhere in the world, literally takes three days. So let’s say there are five players from Gaza, and there was a tournament in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. You have to go to the border, and depending on the mood of the employee, you either enter Egypt or wait until the next day. Then there’s a long drive to Cairo, security checks without you being able to leave, and only a few stops to use the bathroom.

“But the thing is, Hani was over 40 — so he could bypass this, go straight to Egypt and take a flight. But his players weren’t.”

The Olympic team, including Luis Shamshoum (second left, middle row) and Hani Al-Masdar (back row, sixth from left) (Luis Shamshoum)

“Can you imagine how scary that is?” says Shamshoum. “A young player of 17 or 18, with guns being pointed at you at checkpoints?”

But Al-Masdar always chose to stay with his players.

“I have pictures of him sleeping on the sand in Sinai (an area of Egypt near Gaza),” says Abu Jazar.

“It’s just the man he was,” adds Shamshoum.

‘He died in my arms’

“You want a story of the man he was?” asks cousin Ayman. His voice cracks over the message, with the internet in Gaza intermittent over the past three months. After sending this, he was unreachable for the next 36 hours.

“Let me tell you how he died. At around 9am, multiple missiles were fired towards the neighbourhood where we live. After the first, Hani ran out of his house towards his father’s, 100 metres away, which is where his sister and her daughters live.

“I was at home, next door to his house. I heard him going. He was shouting. ‘Sister, sister! I want to save them!’. I shouted back. ‘Hani! Hani!’. He told me not to go out — it was too dangerous.

“Moments after that, as he was crossing, more missiles struck. Fragments hit his neck and his chest. The last thing Hani said was, ‘Iman, Iman, Iman’. That’s the name of his sister.”

Mohana was also there. He took charge as Al-Masdar was rushed to Al-Aqsa Hospital. There was no direct route to embark on the one-mile journey there — Israeli forces were stationed on Salah Al Din Street, the most direct route there — they had to take a winding route through central Deir al-Balah.

“I took him by car to the hospital,” says Mohana. “I was stroking his face and telling him: ‘Don’t go and leave me, for God’s sake, no!’. Then he died in my arms.”

The group carried him into the hospital — but it was too late. Al-Masdar left behind four children: two girls and two boys, with the youngest, Anas, just 15 months old. The family fled to the home of a relative in Deir al-Balah.

People search for victims and survivors in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip (Getty Images)

“We don’t know what happened to our neighbourhood,” says Ayman. “Fear got to us.”

“I was crying yesterday,” Mohana adds. “I asked Hani: ‘Why did you leave me alone? Take me with you!’. But his daughter was consoling me, and saying: ‘Don’t cry. My father is a martyr in heaven. God chose him’.”

In line with the Islamic faith, Al-Masdar was buried as soon as possible. He now shares his father’s grave — his childhood idol — because, according to Ayman, there are not enough places to bury people.

The phrase is “joined in life, joined in death”, but the reality is more sobering in Gaza. All too often, its inhabitants are joined by the manner of their deaths. That includes Al-Masdar and his father.

“It was during the 2014 Gaza War,” Ayman states. “His father was leaving Al-Musaddar on a motorcycle, he was going to visit some relatives. He was hit by a missile. The Israeli army said that the targeting was a mistake.”

A report by Jerusalem’s Applied Research Institute states that he was one of two civilians who died when their motorcycle was hit by an Israeli drone missile, while a report from the UN Permanent Observer called it a “grave violation”. Along with Al-Masdar’s 65-year-old father, another 19-year-old relative, Moath, was also killed.

Like those before him, Al-Masdar had a life, he had a plan. At a recent Olympic team training camp, he had shared with another assistant coach, Ibrahim Abu Madi, that he was planning on taking his family on a holiday outside of his home land for the very first time, to Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

“He was so young as a coach,” says fellow coach Hashem. “He still had so many achievements to go. Everyone expected him to do great things.”

Al-Masdar and Mohana coaching in 2023 (Al-Masdar family)

After the Olympics, he had agreed to return to Gaza Sports, this time as head coach, with Mohana as his assistant — to “return it to its normal place”, in the latter’s words. Hoping for an end to the conflict, the pair had begun preparing in the weeks before Al-Masdar’s killing. As tributes mounted like petals in autumn, one of the first came from Saleh, the centre-back whom Al-Masdar had mentored. Al-Masdar had been trying to recruit him.

“A big brother, a cornerstone, a lifetime companion,” Saleh wrote. “We had agreed recently to be neighbours. God willing, we will be neighbours in heaven.”

His coaches and team-mates in the Olympic squad have been left desolate, mourning the vine between Gaza’s talent and the Palestinian team.

“He leaves a massive gap,” says Mikdadi. “So many footballers have come through the system because of him, and a lot of the players that played under him feel an extra sense of loss. This is more than your coach, right? This is a guy that was taking care of you, making sure your family was OK, ensuring you could leave camp if there was a wedding or a birth — he was the guy making everything a possibility for you.”

Al-Masdar and head coach Ihab Abu Jazar singing the national anthem (Al-Masdar family)

The senior team are currently in Qatar, competing in the Asian Cup. They begin their campaign against Iran today. Several players are there because of Al-Masdar. But there is no time to mourn.

“We’re losing family every day,” says Barakat, who is with the team. “None of them are numbers, an addition to the toll. People are still in shock; I’m one of them. I’m talking to you as if he is here, it’s taking me time to process.

“But there’s no time to do that, no time to think, because the second we lose someone, we hear of someone else who is injured or lost or who has had their house demolished. Everything is moving so fast.”

Football is an industry used to moving quickly. In times of tragedy, life moves quicker. For all the team’s tributes, their words scampering lightly, the missiles still fall. Al-Masdar’s story is the story of one man, but he is one of many.


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