By Emily Burack
PARIS — There aren’t any Jewish players that we know of at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, which runs from June 7 to July 7 in France. The top-ranked US team is looking to win its second Cup in a row and fourth all time — and they got off to a convincing start with a 13-0 rout of Thiland.
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. Soccer fans around the world know them for their famous “goooooooooooal” calls.
They’ll both be calling the action for Telemundo, the US’ second-largest Spanish-language channel (behind Univision).
Sadovnik, who visits Israel yearly, told JTA there’s no difference between calling the men’s and women’s world cups.
“The sport is the same, the players, it’s 11 versus 11. I mean, 99% [of the time] we call men’s games, but it’s the same sport and the same passion for the soccer.”
2. Israel didn’t qualify, but an Israeli player will be in the tournament.
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 and, yes, we do get homesick at times, but thankfully I am in the beautiful part of the country, so there is not much concern about violence.”
3. Carli Lloyd’s high school coach was a Holocaust survivor.
Star Carli Lloyd has played for the US 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 US when he was only four years old.
“That’s my girl,” he would say while watching Lloyd play. He passed away in January, 2015.
“He was never surprised at her success because she had always been so driven,” Barbara Klobach, his wife, told The New York Times in 2015. “He liked coaching her because she was so serious about the game.”
4. A former Jewish US national team player heads a players’ association.
Yael Averbuch, a Jewish soccer player who previously played for the US 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 US).
In 2019, Averbuch was named executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Assn. (NWSPLA), which 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 US in the World Cup. Averbuch’s association advocates for those players, making her a big part of the larger fight for equality in US women’s soccer.
Another Yael fun fact: Her husband, Aaron West, a soccer writer, will host a daily show from Paris called “FIFA Women’s World Cup Now” on Twitter for Fox Sports.
“You get my crazy soccer thoughts directly to your phone in real-time — this time live on video in front of the Eiffel Tower,” West said.
5. A British Jewish TV host stars in a World Cup ad.
There’s a host of amazing World Cup-themed ads this year, including an epic Nike one. Another one involves a famous British Jewish TV personality.
Claudia Winkleman — reportedly the highest paid woman at the BBC, where she has been a presenter for multiple shows — stars in an advertisement for the Head & Shoulders shampoo brand with players from the British team.
6. Volkswagen, a new ally in the fight against anti-Semitism, has a major presence.
Volkswagen’s logo will be prominently displayed on all the training jerseys for the US team, as part of a partnership between US Soccer and the German car company.
Why is this a Jewish story? Well, it’s kind of an anti-Semitic one. Volkswagen was founded as “the People’s Car” during the Third Reich.
However, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said last week that the company is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.
“Volkswagen has because of its history, and our history in the Second World War, we have an obligation to care about anti-Semitism 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 US women’s squad.
At the SheBelieves Cup, an invitational tournament earlier this year, the US 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, and Ginsburg responded in a letter to Sauerbrunn:
“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.”