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Amir Ben Porat

This article reviews the history of Israeli football from 1948 to the present and argues that Israeli football is ‘made in Israel’ according to the particular historical opportunities that determine the ‘relative autonomy’ of the game in a given period. The first part deals with a period (the 1950s) in which football was subject to politics, the dominant force in Israeli society at the time. During that period, Israeli football was organized by three sports federations, each affiliated with a different political camp. The second part deals with the period from 1990 to the present, in which football clubs were privatized and players became commodities. The contrast between these two periods highlights how the political-economic milieu set effective limits on the structure and practice of Israeli football.

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Guest Editors' Introduction

Football and Society in Israel—a Story of Interdependence

Tamar Rapoport and Amir Ben Porat

Israel, where it has been played every weekend all over the country since before the establishment of the state. Football is not just a game that children and adults love to play and watch; it also involves individual, group, and collective identities, and local and national identification. Football reflects, and often accentuates, political and social conflicts that highlight ethno-national, class, political, and gender hierarchies and tensions in society. The game is largely dependent on the surrounding context(s) that determines its “relative autonomy,” which shapes its distinguished fandom culture(s) and practices (Rapoport 2016).