In a special event in the run-up to Jerusalem Pride, New Israel Fund’s Kick it Out Israel, which works to combat racism in Israeli society through soccer, and Jerusalem’s Open House organized a special soccer tournament. The game featured young players from the Rainbow Team -made up of players from Israel’s LGBT community- and Hapoel Katamon, a team renowned for its commitment to equality and shared society. Last year, for example, Hapoel players celebrated a victory by parading with a rainbow flag with the team logo.
The tournament was kicked off by GIli Mosinzon, a leading Israeli basketball player (and son of the prominent late Israeli writer Yigal Mosinzon), who recently came out as bisexual. Afterwards, there was a minute’s silence in memory of Shira Banki, who was murdered at last year’s March in Jerusalem. This is the first time that a professional Israeli soccer team has taken part in a tournament with players from the LGBTQ community, and the event received strong coverage in the Israeli media. In addition, many of the Hapoel Katamon players took part in the parade for the first time ever.
Over the last couple of years, Kick it Out has put the issue of homophobia in Israeli sports on the public’s agenda, alongside its work challenging racism and promoting shared society and tolerance on and off the field.