The Tel Aviv Labor Court recently ruled that Saturday soccer games in Israel were illegal, because the soccer teams do not have a permit to engage in their professional occupation on Shabbat, as the law requires.
Those permits are issued by the Economy Minister – currently Aryeh Deri, head of Shas, the Sephardic haredi party.
But the law – and Deri's affiliations – have not prevented the Israel Football Association (IFA) from demanding that the Minister issue them permits to conduct Saturday games. If he fails to do so, threatened heads of the Association, they will suspend games altogether.
The Association gave Deri a deadline, as well. In a letter to Deri and other ministers, as well as to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Association gave Deri until a week from Wednesday.
“If the permit is not issued by September 7, we will have no choice but to suspend all games on the holy days of all religions,” the letter said.
In the letter, the Association said that Saturday games were vital, and that without them, the soccer industry, as well as many others, will not be able to operate.
Deri, the letter said, “has the power to provide a permit based on the industry's great need for one, and we hope you will take this letter to heart and issue one for the sport of soccer.”