Our World Cup hope re­turns…

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE -

Colom­bia coach José Pek­er­man will be the lead­ing Jewish fig­ure at the World Cup when it kicks off in Moscow next week. In 2014 the grand­son of Ukrainian Jews led the coun­try to the quar­ter finals.


Hugo Meisl, coach of the Aus­trian Wun­derteam that reached the semi-finals in 1934, is re­mem­bered for pioneer­ing the ‘to­tal foot­ball’ adopted by the great Dutch sides of the 1970s. Meisl died of a heart at­tack in 1937.

Cur­rent Colom­bia coach Jose Pek­er­man, 68, ar­rives in Rus­sia as the sec­ond long­est serv­ing coach of any na­tional team in South Amer­ica. His six-year reign in charge of Los Cafeteros in­cludes back-to-back World Cups. He fin­ished the group stages of the 2014 finals with a 100 per cent record, be­fore los­ing 2-0 to Uruguay in the last 16. Colom­bia beat France 3-2 in a friendly in March and line up in Group H along­side Poland, Sene­gal and Ja­pan. Pek­er­man also led Ar­gentina at the 2006 World Cup where he left a teenage Lionel Messi on the bench.

He also en­joyed a suc­cess­ful spell with the Ar­gentina U20 squad, lead­ing them to World Cup tri­umphs in 1995, 1997 and 2001.


Al­fred Schaf­fer played for Hun­gary and later coached them to the 1938 fi­nal, where they lost 4-2 to Italy. Schaf­fer was sent to Dachau, lib­er­ated by the Al­lies, and died af­ter the war.

Edgar Davids played for the Nether­lands at the 1998 World Cup. The Suri­namese-born mid­fielder played with trade­mark pro­tec­tive glasses that his Jewish mother no doubt nagged him to wear.

A num­ber of Jews have rep­re­sented the USA — cen­tre-back Jeff Agoos gained 134 caps and was in the squad for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. His sole no­table con­tri­bu­tion was an own goal. Benny Feil­haber, Jonathan Born­stein, and Jonathan Spec­tor were in the 2010 squad. Kyle Beck­er­man fea­tured in all three group matches in 2014.

And then there is Mario Balotelli, a key player in Italy’s vic­tory over Eng­land in 2014, who was adopted by a Jewish fam­ily. His mother is the daugh­ter of a Holo­caust sur­vivor.


Abra­ham Klein – con­sid­ered by many the best ref­eree in the world at the time, of­fi­ci­ated in the 1970, 1978 and 1982 World Cups. He did not at­tend in 1974 as, af­ter the Mu­nich Olympics mas­sacre in 1972, he was con­sid­ered a tar­get. Ref­er­eed his first World Cup match in 1970, aged 36, tak­ing charge of the Brazil v Eng­land match, fondly re­mem­bered for Bobby Moore’s tackle on Pele. Pele praised Klein for “al­ways hav­ing to­tal con­trol of the ac­tion”.

Klein de­nied Ar­gentina a penalty in 1978 in front of their home crowd against Italy. The Ar­gen­tines con­se­quently banned him from their re­main­ing matches, pun­ished for his scrupu­lous pro­fes­sion­al­ism in what was con­sid­ered a scan­dal.

He fea­tured in the fi­nal in 1982 as a lines­man and re­tired in 1984, aged 50.

● Me­nachem Ashke­nazi ref­er­eed two matches at the 1966 World Cup, in­clud­ing the quar­ter-fi­nal at Good­i­son Park in which Euse­bio scored four goals as Por­tu­gal over­came a 3-0 deficit against North Korea to win 5-3.



Colour photos clock­wise from far left: Edgar Davids, Mario Balotelli, Jose Pek­er­man, ref­eree Abra­ham Klein with Dino Zoff and Daniel Pas­sarella in 1978

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