Posted by: Steve Coplan | June 27, 2006

Jews and the World Cup

There’s a famous joke about the Jew and the elephant (as recounted here by Jaques Derrida ) that revolves around the Jewish obsession with the Jews (also known as the Woody Allen Syndrome). In that tradition, I’d like explore the Jewish question as it relates to the World Cup. It’s certainly not unheard of for Jews to write about football — certainly not. It is fairly unusual for a serious footballing nation for both the coach and the captain to be Jewish. Via Tony Karon’s absorbing blog on the World Cup, it has been brought to my attention that Argentina’s coach Jose Pekerman and captain Juan Pablo Sorin are Jewish. This is surprising on two counts — football in Argentina is a matter of serious national obsession and secondly, Argentina has a fairly lengthy history of anti-Semitism. When I visited Buenos Aires in 1989 and was not entirely distracted by the passing parade of human pulchritude noticed that copies of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” were being sold on the street corner. Pekerman, it is interesting to note comes from Moiseville, a town established on the pampas by Baron Maurice de Hirsch in the late 1800s to rehabilitate the ghetto Jews.

Unfortunately, while he may have on occassion worn a kippah, David Beckham is not Jewish.



  1. Thanks for the props! Argentina may have antisemitism, but it also has plenty of Jews. Hey, even England, on its only team ever to win the World Cup (1966), had a Jewish left back — George Cohen. (At least I think he was Jewish…)

  2. This is a question that has vexed me for some time until I came across this – – since rugby player Ben Cohen is George Cohen of Fulham and the England 1966 team. The last name is misleading …

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