Attending a Sports game in Israel

Israeli flag

Although sports in Israel are not quite at the level of many other developed countries, it has always been a huge part of the Israeli culture, as many sports lovers around the country are extremely passionate about the Israeli national teams, especially in soccer and basketball, and about their own city’s team. Thus, going to a sports game in Israel can be an epic cultural experience and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture. Here’s our full guide to attending a sports game in Israel.

Sports culture in Israel

The 3 most popular kinds of sports games in Israel are soccer, basketball, and tennis. Thus, every city in the country features many free soccer and basketball courts in parks and schools, which are almost always filled with sports enthusiasts. Although no elite and world-famous athletes ever came from Israel, it has sent several players to major sports leagues in the past few years. Those include 3 NBA players, the most notable being Deni Avdija, and 26 English Premier League players, with the most successful being Yossi Benayuon.

In addition, when it comes to the Olympics, Israeli athletes have registered tremendous achievements in the fields of Judo, windsurfing, and gymnastics, with a total of 13 Olympic medals, including 3 gold medals.

Biggest sports events in Israel

The Maccabiah

The Maccabiah is the biggest sports event for Jewish people in the world, as it takes place in a format that is very similar to the Olympic games. During the Maccabiah, which takes place about every four years in Israel, Jewish people from all over the world represent their home country and compete in numerous fields of sports, including running, swimming, soccer, and many more.

In addition to Jewish people, non-Jewish athletes from Israel participate in the Maccabiah as well. The last Maccabiah took place in the summer of 2022, and the one before, which was held in 2017, had an all-time record of representatives, with Jewish athletes from 80 different countries.

Tel Aviv Marathon

The Tel Aviv Marathon is the biggest running event in Israel, as it takes place in late winter every year since 1981. This great event attracts runners from all over the world, with participants from over 30 different countries. The race’s current record is 2 hours, 10 minutes, and 11 seconds, broken by Kenyan runner Dominic Kipngeno Mibei in 2023.

In addition to the full marathon, at the same time, you can find here races of half a marathon, 10 km, 5 km, and more, so if you want to experience a great race with a vibrant atmosphere, participating in the Tel Aviv Marathon can be a truly epic experience to remember.

Other International events

In addition to the events that regularly take place in Israel, Israel hosts many other international sports events from time to time. For example, in 2019, Israel hosted the FIBA U20 European Championship in Tel Aviv, and in 2017, it hosted one group in the Men’s EuroBasket tournament. In addition, in 2023, Israel hosted the FIBA women’s EuroBasket.

Almost every year, at least one major international sporting event takes place in Israel, so if you’re a big fan of sports, we highly recommend checking major events in Israel in advance.

Best soccer teams to watch

Maccabi Tel Aviv F.C

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s soccer team is historically the most successful soccer team in Israel with 23 all-time championships. The club, known as simply “Maccabi”, is playing in the renovated Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa. Historically, as most sports teams also have some political ties, Maccabi Tel Aviv F.C. is tied mostly with right-wing supporters and is considered to be the team with the biggest crowd in the country.

Maccabi Haifa F.C

Maccabi Haifa F.C. has been the most successful Israeli sports team in the past few years, with a recent run of 3 straight championships. Notably, it has also reached the UEFA Champions League in 2022 and even defeated the world-renowned Juventus F.C. in a group stage game. This great club plays in the new Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, which is the most modern and impressive football stadium in Israel.

Beitar Jerusalem F.C

The official team of Jerusalem, Beitar Jerusalem F.C, might not be as successful as the big teams of Haifa and Tel Aviv, but it is still a great team on its own, supported by a huge and passionate fanbase. The team has been famously known as one that is mostly supported by right-wing fans and politicians, as many Israeli prime ministers have been huge supporters of the team, including Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert.

Beitar Jerusalem plays in the big Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and attending one of the team’s games is one of the most unique cultural experiences you can have in Israel.

Best basketball teams to watch

Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C

Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C is by far the most successful basketball team in Israel and among the best teams in Europe. Through the years, Maccabi has won 56 Israeli league championships, including 23 straight, and 6 EuroLeague championships, with the last win being in 2014.

Through the years, the club has also developed several internationally successful players and coaches, like Omri Casspi and Deni Avdija, who have made it to the NBA, and David Blatt, who reached the NBA finals as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015.

Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C plays in Menora Mivtachim Arena in Yad Eliyahu Neighborhood in Tel Aviv. It plays twice a week, as the team is a regular participant in the EuroLeague, the best European league, which is the second-best in the world, after the NBA. Although it might be more expensive, if you get a chance to attend a EuroLeague game in Israel, you are in for a real treat, as Maccabi Tel Aviv gets the whole country’s support in those high-level international games, which makes them even more special to attend.

Hapoel Jerusalem B.C

As the second-best basketball team in Israel, attending a game of Hapoel Jerusalem B.C is a great experience to remember. Known for raucous crowds and a great arena, located near Malha Mall, Hapoel Jerusalem has produced several great Israeli players and makes for a very respectable team on its own.

Hapoel Tel Aviv B.C

As the city rival and lesser team of Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv B.C has historically been a very successful basketball team, which has a very unique history. In 2009, after a rich history and many successful years, the original team was abandoned by its owner and went bankrupt, which led to the disbandment of the original team.

As a response, the fans of Hapoel Tel Aviv formed their own new team, by the name of Hapoel Usishkin, which is entirely funded and owned by its fans. The team started playing in the fifth Israeli league, and slowly went up the rankings, until in 2010, it got its original name back, and in 2012, got back to the Premier Israeli basketball league, where it stayed ever since. Today, it’s the only major sports team in Israel that is entirely owned by fans, which shows the incredible passion and support of the fans of Hapoel.

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