Football in Times of War © WJC/Shahar Azran

At a World Jewish Congress (WJC) event in Budapest, the president of the Israel Football Association highlighted the team's resilience during the Israel-Hamas conflict and the potential use of football and sport as sources of hope and unity.

Although the conflict between Israel and Hamas forced the team to move their "home" games to Hungary, introducing numerous unusual complexities for the football team's matches and training, this situation has been embraced as a unifying symbol. It has inspired and brought together Jewish communities worldwide. The president also emphasized the team's journey to qualify for the Eurocup, with Israel participating in European competitions since the World Cup qualification in Sweden 1958, where several Arab teams refused to play against them.

Moshe (Shino) Zuares, president of the Israel Football Association, spoke at an event organized by the World Jewish Congress on Thursday at the Rumbach Synagogue in Budapest. He discussed the team's journey as a pursuit of sporting excellence and as a beacon of hope and resistance for Israeli society. "Football brings together people of different backgrounds, religions, and viewpoints," said Zuares. "When players enter the locker room, a human melting pot emerges as a unified team, whose shared purpose is greater than the differences among its members and greatly strengthened by it."

He added, "Since the outbreak of the war, the IFA has played a significant role in supporting, uniting, and encouraging Israeli society. We've raised donations, visited hospitals and IDF bases, held special tournaments for children who survived and were evacuated from their homes, and donated hundreds of pairs of football shoes and balls to people who, during and after the war, will return to doing what they love most."

Prof. Dr. Andor Grósz, vice president of the WJC and President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Hungary, emphasized the importance of these discussions: "Today's conversations shed light not only on the power of sport to uplift and unite but also on the crucial role they play in fostering dialogue and understanding between different communities. Today, in Hungary, we all support the national team of Israel and the entire country in this time of crisis.