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7 Jewish fun facts about the 2019 Women’s World Cup

By Emily Burack

(JTA) – There aren’t any Jewish players that we know of at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, which began June 7 and runs through July 7 in France. The top-ranked U.S. team is looking to win its second Cup in a row and fourth all time. But there are still plenty of fun Jewish facts about the tournament, which we’ve rounded up for you below.

1. Telemundo’s Jewish team
Two of the three main play-by-play announcers for Telemundo, the Spanish language network, are Jewish: Andrés Cantor, an Argentine Jew, and Sammy Sadovnik, a Peruvian Jew who visits Israel yearly. Soccer fans around the world know them for their famous “goooooooooooal” calls. They’ll both be calling the action for Telemundo, the U.S.’ second-largest Spanish-language channel (behind only Univision).

2. Israel didn’t qualify, but an Israeli player will play.
Israel women’s national football team, established in 1997, has never qualified for a World Cup. However, there is one international player who plays on an Israeli club in the tournament this year: Sashana Campbell, a Jamaican midfielder. Campbell currently plays for the Israeli club Maccabi Kishronot Hadera FC.

“Playing in Israel is amazing; there are a lot more girls in Israel who want to play and I think the support is substantial for the leagues over there when compared to here,” the 28-year-old told the Jamaica Observer, comparing Israel to Jamaica. “I have never felt left out. The team is like a family to me.”

3. Carli Lloyd’s high school coach was a Holocaust survivor.
Star Carli Lloyd has played for the U.S. since 2005, and she will be a co-captain of her country’s team for the tournament. She isn’t Jewish, but her high school coach was. In fact, Rudi Klobach was born in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1944. He survived and moved to the U.S. when he was four years old. “That’s my girl,” he would say while watching Lloyd play. He passed away in January 2015. 

4. A former Jewish U.S. national team player heads a players’ association.
Yael Averbuch, a Jewish soccer player who previously played for the U.S. women’s national team, announced she was suspending her playing career prior to the 2019 season. However, she remains very involved with the National Women’s Soccer League (the top women’s league in the U.S.). In 2019, Averbuch was named executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association (NWSPLA), an association she helped form in 2017. The players in the National Women’s Soccer League who don’t make the national team make far less than those representing the U.S. in the World Cup. Averbuch’s association advocates for those players, making her a big part of the larger fight for equality in U.S. women’s soccer.

5. A British Jewish TV host stars in a World Cup ad.
Claudia Winkleman – reportedly the highest paid woman at the BBC, where she has been a presenter for multiple shows – stars in a fun advertisement for the Head & Shoulders shampoo brand with players from the British team.

6. Volkswagen has a major presence.
Volkswagen’s logo will be prominently displayed on all the training jerseys for the U.S. team, as part of a major partnership between U.S. Soccer and the German car company. Why is this a Jewish story? Volkswagen was founded as “the People’s Car” during the Third Reich. However, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said this week that the company is dedicated to fighting antisemitism, particularly in Europe. “Volkswagen has because of its history, … an obligation to care about antisemitism and racism,” Herbert Diess told JTA. “We have more obligation than others. The whole company was built up by the Nazi regime.”

7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a big fan of the U.S. women’s squad.
At the SheBelieves Cup, an invitational tournament, earlier this year, the U.S. women’s team players put the names of inspirational women on their jerseys. Defender Becky Sauerbrunn chose Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The team sent the jersey to the Jewish justice herself, and Ginsburg responded. In a letter to Sauerbrunn, Ginsburg writes, “I am so proud to be among the women chosen for recognition.” She concluded: “The jersey will be my favorite for the biweekly workouts that keep me in shape.”

CAP: U.S. soccer superstar Carli Lloyd.

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