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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England