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Soccer, or football, as it's known in these parts, is the team sport of choice in Israel. In fact, it isn’t just a sport, it’s practically a religion, and Israeli fans are rabid about their teams, whether part of the elite leagues or a local league club.
There are the top teams that do most of the winning – located in the larger cities and teams of Tel Aviv, Haifa and occasionally Jerusalem - with the occasional upstart like Hapoel Ramat Gan Beersheva or Bnei Sakhnin, the most successful Arab club that won the State Cup in 2004. There are lower leagues as well, but with regular wins within their league, they can be promoted to the top teams.
Given the teams’ founding connections to the country’s political parties, one doesn’t choose which team to support; one is born into an existing family alliance and there’s no switching of team affiliations.
During your Israel tour, pick up tickets for a soccer game – and get there early to watch the fans. Whether you’re at the Ramat Gan stadium or Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, the local fans are a show unto themselves, munching sunflower seeds, wearing their team scarves and jerseys and chanting their team songs. Settle in and enjoy the show.
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