For 3 days in Tel Aviv, football becomes more than metaphor

Highlights from the 6 May Germany-Israel Freundschaftsspiel in Berlin. (5:39)

As part of a broader cultural exchange, Israel hosts an international Writers’ League tournament, including England and Germany, from Dec 14–16. Deutscher Fußball-Bund president Theo Zwanziger leads a delegation to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel and to commemorate sporting contacts that helped build cultural and diplomatic relations between the two countries in the 1950s and ’60s.

“It was sport that first … led to a change in the way Germany was viewed by a large part of the Israeli population,” Zwanziger says. “Football played a decisive role in this process.”

The Israeli writers play England and Germany, the latter a rematch of the May friendly that Assaf Gavron describes in his article Dec 9. On Dec 16, Israeli and German authors feature in a reading and discussion co-sponsored by the Goethe Institut in Tel Aviv and FAs from the two countries. The writers, according to the German Foreign Ministry, will also visit peace centers, school groups and the Holocaust monument Yad Vashem.

In addition to matches involving authors, Borussia Mönchengladbach plays an exhibition against Makkabi Netanya, coached by Lothar Matthäus, as part of the three-day commemoration. Germany’s U18 team competes against Israel, Finland and Romania.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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