Just Win the Game: The Reception of Arab Minorities on Israel’s National Football Team

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The presence of minorities and immigrants in national sports settings specifically in football, is well documented in many places around the world. The growing presence of Arab ethnic minorities on Israel’s national football team reflects this trend, and, as I will argue, it shows how sports in Israeli society is a gateway for the integration of minorities into Israeli society, yet at the same time, it also exposes the unique and complex tensions between diverse identity groups in Israeli society. The current study examined Jewish-Israeli football fans’ attitudes to the significant presence of Arab-Muslim players on the national team (whose starting eleven includes 4–6 Arab-Muslim players, including its captain since 2018). Based upon an analysis of fan comments posted to social media, related to the 2018–2019 UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Nations League campaign, this study reveals Jewish hegemonic attitudes toward Arab footballers, as well as Arab footballers’ relative autonomy. Admiration and empathy toward minority members are expressed after victories, but in the absence of these well-defined conditions for empathy, as in the cases of team defeats or manifestations of minority pride, Jewish football fans shifted immediately to blatant, derogatory, and patronizing comments that focused on Arab players’ loyalty and expressed patronizing superiority over the Arab players.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-400
Number of pages10
JournalSport, Ethics and Philosophy
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Arab minorities
  • Israel National Football
  • fandom
  • social media

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