Grant faces Israeli criticism over match on memorial day

Avram Grant's satisfaction at steering Chelsea to the semi-finals of the Champions League was tempered yesterday by the realisation that the fixture calendar has placed him in an invidious position.

The second-leg tie against Liverpool, which is to be played at Stamford Bridge on 30 April, clashes with the eve of Yom Hashoah, Israel's Holocaust memorial day. Ordinarily Grant, the son of a Holocaust survivor, and grandson of Holocaust victims, would expect to observe the day which begins at sundown the night before.

Chelsea said yesterday they were aware of the situation, that it was a personal issue for Grant, and they would support him whatever decision he made. Early indications are that he will be in the technical area, as usual.

Such a choice is sure to bring forth condemnation in Israel where all forms of public entertainment are banned. Chelsea's match will not be televised for this reason. However, the situation is not as clear-cut outside Israel.

When Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, as it does this year, observance within Israel is brought forward a day (to Thursday). But in the Jewish Diaspora observance generally remains on the Friday. Grant is understood to have reasoned that since he is outside Israel he can work. Moreover, Yom Hashoah, while an important day in the Jewish year, is not as significant as Yom Kippur when Israel effectively closes; at Yom Hashoah shops remain open and many people work.

None of this will cut much ice with Grant's critics in Israel. It might be thought his attaining such a prominent position in football, and making a decent fist of it, would be a source of pride but Grant has made so many enemies during his rise, especially in the media, that such a view remains a minority one.

This may change should Grant lead Chelsea to Champions League victory. One factor which may help him do so is the form of Michael Ballack who is finally justifying his extravagant salary and reputation. Ballack played in the 2002 final, losing to Real Madrid, and the 31-year-old German midfielder is desperate to make the step up to lifting the European Cup.

"For the club and for me it would be fantastic if we can win this title. This is why I am here. I want to win this competition," Ballack said in the wake of the quarter-final victory over Fenerbahce.

It was hardly the most convincing of performances – with team-mate Ashley Cole calling it a "bad one" – but as Ballack said: "In 10 years, in 20 years when you look back people remember the trophies you win."

It has taken time for Ballack to be accepted at Chelsea, so it was a surprise to hear the Chelsea supporters chant his name when the team was awarded a free-kick just outside the Fenerbahce area.

But the fans recognise that Ballack is the man who could create and score vital goals. "That is why I am here," he said. "I did this in Germany and for the national team as well, and I want to do the same for Chelsea."

One major concern for Chelsea that could affect confidence is the injuries to their goalkeepers, Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini. The club maintains Cech could return in a fortnight after the horrific cuts he received to his face, but the prognosis for Cudicini, who damaged a hamstring mid-way through the game, is not so good. It means Chelsea will have to make do, for now, with third-choice Hilario, and 18-year-old youth goalkeeper Rhys Taylor on the bench.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all