Israel side Hapoel Tel Aviv beat Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg 3-2 away in the first leg of their Champions League tie, which was a big surprise. However, another surprising thing is that the goalscorer of Hapoel’s 3rd goal, Itay Schecter, was given a yellow card for his celebration, which involved putting a Jewish skullcap and going down on his knees for prayer.

He neither pulled off his shirt nor appeared to be wasting any time, but still the Portuguese referee saw it fit to give him a booking. In the video you can see Schecter ask the ref for an explanation, but wasn’t really given one. You often see other short religious celebrations on the football pitch, like Christians crossing themselves or Muslims bowing down in prayer, and that hasn’t been a problem before. We even saw it as recently as at the World Cup. So unless FIFA/UEFA have introduced stricter “political correctness” rules for referees to follow, this is an inexplicable decision.

Hopefully, he was just in a bad mood in that game, and the decision wasn’t fueled by other motives. Still, it’s not the end of the world, and the way things are going on, Schecter will be able to continue with his celebrations in the group stages of the Champions League. It’s been a long time since an Isreali side has been doing so well, and they really have a chance of going through now.


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