Pekerman’s star on the rise but rabbis bemoan small attendances
THE STAND-OUT Jewish success story was Colombia coach José Pekerman steering his flair-filled side to the quarter-finals and a best-ever finish.
Argentinian Pekerman, who managed his own national side in the 2006 tournament, has seen his star rise.
The grandson of Ukrainian Jews, Pekerman is now back home in Buenos Aires’ Jewish neighbourhood of Villa Crespo plotting his next move.
After defeat to Brazil last weekend, Colombia’s president appeared on television in the Colombian jersey and begged Pekerman to stay as coach.
He should continue his work with “success, superiority and professionalism”, said Juan Manuel Santos.
Colombian fans are desperate to retain Pekerman’s services, but will a big club job now be on offer?
Elsewhere it was a relatively uneventful tournament for players based in Israel. Ashdod FC’s Juwon Oshinawa played in all four of Nigeria’s matches before the country crashed out in the second round against France.
Hapoel Be’er Sheva goalkeeper Austin Ejide failed to make an appearance in the same four games.
Italy’s Mario Balotelli — whose adoptive parents are Jewish — scored against England, but could not prevent his country being eliminated in the group stage.
Kyle Beckerman’s distinctive dreadlocks made him stand out out in the United States’ three impressive group matches, but claims that he is Jewish seem to be dubious. He attended a Cath- olic high school and married earlier this year in a Greek Orthodox ceremony.
The timing of Brazil’s quarter-final with Colombia last Friday posed a problem for the country’s Jewish football fans, if not for the aforementioned coach Pekerman.
The 5pm kick-off time coincided almost exactly with the start of Shabbat. The clash of timing casued Sao Paulo rabbi Pessach Kauffman to bemoan Fifa’s scheduling.
A fortnight earlier his Shabbat lunch had drawn only 10 participants rather than the typical crowd of 50 — the host nation had been playing Chile at the time.
Rabbi Kauffman and friends had to make do with so-called “Shabbos football goyim” — their security guards, waiters and chefs — providing score updates.