The Jewish Soccer Stars of the 1920s

In the 1920s, soccer had become popular throughout Europe, but Britain still dominated the sport. Thus when English teams toured the Continent every summer, they expected victory over the local teams played. One rare exception came in 1923, as Ronen Dorfan writes:

West Ham United, [a leading English team], traveled to Austria, where a local league surprised spectators with a one-one tie. The league was called Hakoaḥ Vienna, [its name meaning “the strength” in Hebrew]. The Hakoaḥ members told their English counterparts at a joint meal that, as a Jewish league, they had to be tough. They faced a violent game from their opponents and referees rarely made calls in their favor. The English gentlemen invited them to a return match.

The match took place several months later in the Upton Park stadium in East London, and the result was a sensation. Hakoaḥ became the first non-English league to beat England on British soil. The league not only won, but swept England’s eminent league with a score of 5:0. . . .

Hakoaḥ was in fact a Zionist league. The club’s prevailing spirit was shaped by its founder, Ignaz Kerner, a dentist who drafted many of the league’s players from Europe’s four corners. . . . Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka were among the league’s fans. Austria paid little attention to the fact that this was a Jewish league [once it won fame]. The chancellor himself went to meet the train that carried the league home from London, and its victory in London was considered a major triumph for Austria.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at Museum of the Jewish People

More about: Austrian Jewry, Jewish history, Sports

A U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Would Help Russia, Iran, and Islamic State

Aug. 21 2019

Despite the president’s declaration last year that American troops would soon begin leaving Syria, about 1,000 remain. Charles Lister argues that their presence in the country serves vital U.S. interests:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Middle East Institute

More about: Iran, ISIS, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy