Sunday, February 3, 2013

On "Superbowl Sunday" We Present "Football" from the Holy Land

Game at the YMCA in Jerusalem between the Greek airforce
and the "Y's" team (April 1942).  King George of Greece
attended the game and presented a cup to the winner. See here
American-style football with helmets and pads has only recently caught on in Israel.  But "football" in Israel after 1948 and in British Mandate Palestine prior to 1948 is "soccer."

Football match between the French and
British armies playing at the YMCA
before a "tensely interested" crowd.
 (March 1940)

In the 1930s soccer caught on in the Jewish community of Palestine with organized teams and soccer fields.  
The bleachers at the Jerusalem soccer
field.  See also here (circa 1935)

"Crowd of Orthodox Jews who arrived on the scene to force the
discontinuing of the Maccabee football game." (circa 1935)

In Jerusalem, however, the field was located near the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Meah Shearim, and games on the Sabbath led to disturbances, as documented by the American Colony Photographers' pictures and posted in an earlier feature.

During World War II the various military forces based in region -- British, French, Greek -- played on the Jerusalem YMCA field, also preserved in the pictures from the Library of Congress' collection.


  1. The first soccer club was founded in 1906 and called Maccabi Rishon LeTziyon-Yaffo. Maccabo Hashmonai Jerusalem followed in 1911, Petah Tikvah in 1912, Haifa in 1913 as well as the Herzliyah Gymnasia and the Mikveh Yisrael teams.

  2. organized teams preceded World War I with football (soccer) teams playing in Jaffa, Jerusalem and other moshavot.