The World Cup kicks off (heh) in Rustenburg, South Africa on Friday with 32 teams ready to do battle. (Israel is not one of them, but there are none from Arab countries either.)
According to Bob Wechsler, author of Day by Day in Jewish Sports History, there are three Jews on the US squad:
- Jonathan Bornstein
- Benny Feilhaber — Jewish father (grandparents escaped the Nazis and moved to Brazil)
- Jonathan Spector — His grandfather, Art Spector, was the first player ever drafted by the Boston Celtics.
This has to be a record. (Jeff Agoos and Dan Calichman were both on the U.S. national team in 1997, but there was no World Cup that year.)
Those who read the Korner regularly know that I’m not much of a soccer fan. I feel compelled to defend by favorite sport against those who say it’s boring by using soccer as an example of a game that has a lot of running around with very little to show for it unless someone scores a particularly demanding goal. I’m just sayin’.
So perhaps someone will offer up a primer on soccer and explain why the players seem to move from one club to another with frighteningly rapidity. For example, Spector plays for West Ham United in England (no pork jokes, please) while Feilhaber is on the roster for AGF Aarhus in Denmark. Bornstein, on the other hand, plays for Chivas USA.
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles published this nice profile on local products Bornstein and Feilhaber. Spector hails from Chicago so he’s on his own.
For more information about the World Cup, visit the official website.