(JTA) — Amid preparations for a loaded soccer match between Israel’s national soccer team and Poland’s, the Polish Football Association honored a Jewish player murdered in the Holocaust.
The association’s president, Zbigniew Boniek, is scheduled to give a shirt bearing the uniform number, 4, and name of Jozef Klotz to an Israeli relative of that soccer player, who in 1922 in Sweden scored the first-ever goal for a Polish team in an international match. The current members of the Polish national team all signed the short, which Yoav Dekel will receive during a ceremony in Warsaw.
Klotz was Dekel’s great uncle.
Preparations for that ceremony, organized by the From the Depths Holocaust commemoration group, coincided with the UEFA EURO Qualifiers. Israel’s match against Latvia Monday will determine whether it moves on to play against Poland.
A match could bring into contact hundreds of soccer fans from Israel and Poland. Relations between the two countries have suffered following the eruption of a diplomatic crisis over Poland’s outlawing of rhetoric blaming it for the Holocaust. The fight has recently widened to include restitution issues.
Klotz, whose height of 6'8" was unusual in the 1920s, was one of Polish soccer’s earliest stars. He played for Jutrzenka Krakow and Maccabi Warszawa before being murdered by German Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941.