By Oliver Bradley in Berlin
Just over a month before the kick off of this yearâ€™s FIFA world cup, Germany 2006, the third European Maccabi Football Trophy was played in Berlin. The semi-finalists were the Maccabi national teams from Russia, Great Britain, Hungary and Germany who vied for the trophy from April 28 through May 1st.
Germany successfully defended its title â€“ winning against Hungary 2:1. The Germans also won two years ago in the last tournament that was played in Frankfurt in 2004.
Thomas Muecke, co-trainer of the Berlinâ€™s TuS Makkabi football team who also assisted in coaching the German Maccabi team told EJP that this yearâ€™s tournament was originally to have been played in Spain. Due to several organisational problems, the tournament was moved at the last minute to Berlin which has the logistic capacity to host such events, even at short notice.
Most of the 19 members of the German team played together for the first time. Nevertheless, they were able to defend their title and went home with the trophy after winning against the Hungarian team.
Most members of Germanyâ€™s team come from the two largest Jewish communities in the country â€“ Frankfurtâ€™s and Berlinâ€™s. Most players are children of Russian immigrants that have settled in Germany over the past 20 years. Mordechai Tiechauer, vice president of Makkabi Deutschland told the Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ) newspaper, â€œin Germany we have the saying that the winning team will have the best Russians on itâ€.
The team from Russia came in 3rd, ahead of Britain.
Berlinâ€™s TuS Makkabi took over the organisation of this yearâ€™s event when the original venue in Spain fell through. They worked together with the European Maccabi Federation and Makkabi Deutschland e.V., the German arm of the organisation to make it the success that it was.
The event is open to any national team from Europe that registers for it. No qualifying matches are necessary. Although the games are not competitive like the Maccabia, the Jewish Olympics, Tamir Zakai, player of TuS Berlin and captain of the German team told FAZ that â€œthe main purpose of the Trophy is to be able and come together with other Jewish athletes â€“ to play, celebrate and exchange thoughtsâ€.
This yearâ€™s tournament was played on TuS Makkabiâ€™s new Julius Hirsch Field. The sports field was named in honour of Germanyâ€™s pre-war football great, at the opening match of this yearâ€™s Trophy. Julius Hirsch, who played from 1902 to 1933 with the Karsruhe Football Club, one of Germanyâ€™s leading teams, was murdered in Auschwitz.
Germany â€“ Great Britain 1:0
Russia â€“ Hungary 0:0
Russia â€“ Germany 1:3
Hungary â€“ Great Britain 0:0
Russia â€“ Great Britain 2:0
Hungary â€“ Germany 1:2