The Team for Social Responsibility is an innovative initiative by Kick It Out Israel that seeks to deepen players’ involvement in speaking out against racism and violence. They will promote joint living between Jews, Arabs and all Israel’s communities.
The program will leverage the players’ celebrity, role model status, and influence with the fans. The team will comprise of soccer players from all Israel’s communities and is being organized in partnership with the Israel Football Association and Israel Football Players Organization.
Kick It Out Israel launched the new team at an event in London that was organized and staged with NIF UK. Present at the launch was an impressive coalition of organizations, which included the most important soccer organizations in Israel, Europe, and worldwide.
At the heart of the event were Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal, best friends on and off the field who helped the British Brighton team win promotion to the Premier League. Hemed said, “When the fans see a friendship between a Jew and an Arab as there was between Beram and me at Maccabi Haifa, it inspires them.”
The event received major media coverage in Israel and the UK.
NIF Executive Director in Israel Mickey Gitzin explained the rationale. “NIF did not randomly choose soccer. The reason we entered the sporting arena was the huge ability of sport to have a positive influence on society and to promote joint living and tolerance in Israeli society.”
Imaye Tage, a member of Israel’s Ethiopian community who will be in the Team for Social Responsibility said, “As sportspeople, we have a duty to try and make change in society. I see the impact I have on people when I come to speak to them in schools.”
The Team for Social Responsibility will officially launch in Israel in October – the latest phase in a campaign which has achieved a marked reduction in the prevalence of racism on Israeli soccer fields over the past decade.
Photo Credit: IFPO