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South African Jewish Soccer Player Stripped of Captain Title

South African cricket’s governing body has stripped a Jewish player of the captaincy of a youth squad following a row over his support for Israel.

In a statement published on Friday, authorities said that if David Teeger were allowed to lead the nation’s team at the Under 19 World Cup it could lead to “conflict or even violence”.

South Africa expects protests at the tournament, which it will host later this month.

Teeger faced criticism and an investigation after he dedicated an award to Israel late last year.

Accepting a “rising star” award, the teenager said: “Yes, I’ve been [given] this award, and yes, I’m now the rising star, but the true rising stars are the young soldiers in Israel.

“And I’d like to dedicate it to the state of Israel and every single soldier fighting so that we can live and thrive in the diaspora.”

Following his remarks, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance filed a complaint with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, which launched an investigation.

Former judge Wim Tregrove, appointed to investigate the claims, found that Teeger had made the comments in a personal capacity unrelated to cricket.

The young sportsman’s speech was not, therefore, “detrimental to the sport or inter-team relations” he said.

Tregrove added: “The Constitutional Court has made the point that the right to freedom of expression does not protect hate speech, but emphasized that the expression of unpopular or even offensive beliefs does not constitute hate speech.”

Despite his verdict, Cricket South Africa (CSA) has stripped Teeger of his captaincy before the World Cup. 

“As is the case with all such events, CSA has been receiving regular security and risk updates regarding the World Cup,” they said in a statement.

“We have been advised that protests related to the war in Gaza can be anticipated at the venues for the tournament. We have also been advised that they are likely to focus on the position of the SA Under-19 captain, David Teeger, and that there is a risk that they could result in conflict or even violence, including between rival groups of protestors.

“CSA has a primary duty to safeguard the interests and safety of all those involved in the World Cup and must accordingly respect the expert advice of those responsible for the safety of participants and spectators.

“In all the circumstances, CSA has decided that David should be relieved of the captaincy for the tournament.”

This is in the “best interest” of the other players and Teeger, the statement claimed.

The cricketer, who keeps kosher and observes Shabbat, will be allowed to play as a regular team member.

Jewish leaders previously condemned the launch of an investigation into Teeger over his support for Israel. 

“Cricket South Africa should be ashamed of itself to subject a young schoolboy to a Maoist inquisition to test his ideological purity,” Chief Rabbi Goldstein said.

Mandy Yachad, a Jewish cricketer who represented South Africa in international competitions, previously told the JC he would boycott upcoming matches over the “racist” treatment of Teeger.

He said: “Not only will I not accept invitations to the pavilion as a former national player, but I will refuse to enter any of the grounds where the matches are being played… I love watching our teams, especially at the Wanderers and at Newlands, but not after what’s just happened.”