Israel might not be in the World Cup, but the nation’s attention is still very much fixed on the global sporting event taking place in Brazil.
And there is much happening at the World Cup that concerns Israel beyond the exciting gameplay, which thousands of Israelis have travelled half-way around the world to watch in person.
On Saturday, a spectator managed to run out onto the field during the German-Ghana match, take off his shirt and display for millions of viewers around the world the anti-Semitic and Nazi messages scrawled on his body.
FIFA, the World Cup’s governing body, was criticized after none of its own officials did anything to end the incident. The Nazi sympathizer had to be escorted off the field by a member of the Ghana team.
Earlier during a match between Russia and Croatia, a number of people in the crowd reportedly displayed neo-Nazi banners.
But it wasn’t all hate and racism.
When a group of celebrating Iranian fans were approached by a reporter from Israel’s Channel 2 News, they responded very positively.
“Israel? Israel is lovely,” one Iranian told the Israeli reporter before kissing him on the cheek. Another chimed in: “Israel and Iran are brothers. We have no problems [with you].”
When told by the Israeli that the Jewish state is “unfortunately not in the World Cup,” a third Iranian sympathized and said, “Next time. Don’t worry. We are here to enjoy ourselves. We aren’t going to win the World Cup, but we are having fun.”
Another Iranian fan holding the flag of his nation asked, “You are from Israel? Come on, we love Israel! My girlfriend is Jewish.” The girlfriend then informed the Israeli that her brother lives in the Jewish state.