This article discusses the transformations in Israeli football over the last two decades, exploring the top-down and bottom-up motivations present in local football and characterizing foreign practices as more Western, or even more ‘civilized’, as Norbert Elias would describe it. Yet, the transformations of English and European football over the last three decades suggest that ‘Western’ is not so much a geographic term as it is a political, moral, and social status, one requiring English, European, and Israeli football to make dedicated political and cultural investments in numerous arenas.
The Westernization of Israeli Football in the Early Twenty-First Century
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.