The Israel men's national football team (Hebrew: נבחרת ישראל בכדורגל, romanized: Nivḥeret Yīsrāʾēl BeḴaduregel) represents Israel in international football, and is governed by the Israel Football Association (IFA).
Israel's national team is the direct successor of the British Mandate of Palestine (Eretz Israel) national team, that had played five international matches from 1934 to 1940, and was managed by the Palestine (Eretz Israel) Football Association. The Israel Football Association is a full member of the European Confederation UEFA since 1994.
Israel qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 1970. They also won the 1964 AFC Asian Cup, before a forced relocation to UEFA.
Football has a long tradition in Israel. The game was originally introduced during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The Palestinian Football Association was formed in August 1928, and joined FIFA in June 1929, but at the time the association was made up of Arab clubs, Jewish clubs, and clubs representing British policemen and soldiers serving in the region during the British Mandate rule that spanned the period between World War I and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Mandatory Palestine national football team made its debut against Cairo (Egypt) in 1934 FIFA World Cup qualification, losing 0–5 in Cairo, Egypt. The team played five international matches, including a friendly match against Lebanon that Palestine won 1–5; until the British Mandate for Palestine national team was dissolved. During those five games, the national team fielded only Jewish players. Three anthems were played before each match: the British "God Save the King", the Jewish (and future Israeli) "Hatikvah", and the opposing team's anthem.
In 1948 the team became, officially, the national football team of (the State of) Israel. The Israel national team's first match as an independent nation was on 26 September 1948, against the US Olympic Team. The game was won by the US 1–3, and in the 20th minute of the game Shmuel Ben-Dror scored the first goal after the creation of the State of Israel.
Israel was one of the founding members of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) following its own independence in 1948 (prior to that it played under the banner of the "British Mandate of Palestine"). After the 1974 Asian Games in Iran, and Israel's 0–1 tense loss to Iran in the finals, Kuwait and other Muslim and Arab countries refused to play them. Following this, Israel were expelled from the confederation and spent a few years trying to qualify from such continental bodies as the OFC (Oceania), before eventually joining UEFA (Europe) officially.
Israel competed at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) between 1954 and 1974. Due to the Arab League boycott of Israel, several Muslim countries refused to compete against Israel. The political situation culminated in Israel winning the 1958 World Cup qualifying stage for Asia and Africa without playing a single game, forcing FIFA to schedule a playoff between Israel and Wales to ensure the team did not qualify without playing at least one game (which Wales won).
Israel hosted and won the 1964 AFC Asian Cup.
In 1968, Israel went to their first Olympic Games and lost to Bulgaria in the quarterfinals.
In 1969, Israel qualified for its first and only FIFA World Cup, via Asia/Oceania. Israel earned two points after a 1–1 draw with Sweden, a 0–0 draw with eventual finalist Italy, and a 0–2 loss to Uruguay. The goal against Sweden, scored by Mordechai Spiegler, is Israel's only FIFA World Cup goal to date.
In 1974, Israel was excluded from AFC competitions, as a result of a proposal by Kuwait (as other Muslim and Arab countries refused to play against Israel), that was adopted by a vote of 17 to 13 with 6 abstentions. The vote coincided with the 1974 Asian Games, where the football competition was marred by the refusal of both North Korea and Kuwait to play second-round matches against Israel.
In 1976, Israel went to its second Olympic Games and lost in the quarterfinals again, this time against Brazil. In 1973 and 1977, Israel participated in the World Cup qualification tournament which included teams from both Asia and Oceania, but failed to qualify.
During the early 1980s, Israel played the majority of its matches against UEFA (Europe) teams, and competed in the European stage of qualification for the 1982 FIFA World Cup.
For the next two tournaments, Israel entered Oceania's (OFC) qualification stage.
In 1989, Israel won the OFC second round (Oceania) by finishing above both Australia and New Zealand. As a result, Israel made it to the CONMEBOL–OFC play-offs to represent Oceania and play against CONMEBOL's (South America) Colombia for the 1990 World Cup, but lost (1–0, 0–0).
In 1991, Israeli clubs began participating in European club competitions of UEFA, and Israel returned to the European leg of World Cup qualifying in 1992. In 1994, Israel received full UEFA membership, 20 years after it had left Asia. Within Europe, Israel has been a relatively minor nation, though with some successes, notably winning 3–2 in Paris against France in 1993, and 5–0 against Austria in 1999. That year, Israel made it to the UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying play-offs, but was beaten by Denmark.
Israel came close to advancing to the playoff stage in their 2006 World Cup qualifying group, finishing third, behind France, and tied on points with Switzerland, which also remained unbeaten in 10 matches after 4 wins and 6 draws. The Swiss had a better goal difference, though, and advanced to the qualification play-off. Coach Avram Grant announced his resignation on 26 October 2005. After the end of his contract, he was succeeded by Dror Kashtan.
In UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying, Israel came very close to qualifying for the final tournament, but finished fourth in Group E, just one point behind second-placed Russia, who qualified directly with Croatia, and level on 23 points with England, who also failed to advance. The 4–3 home loss to Croatia was the first loss after 13 consecutive official games and 9 home games without a loss.
In 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification, Israel again came in fourth, behind Switzerland, Greece, and Latvia. For the UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, Kashtan was replaced as coach by Frenchman Luis Fernández but Israel failed to qualify again, finishing third behind Greece and Croatia.
The continued presence of the Israeli Football Association in UEFA was a precedent cited by Australia to justify its transfer from the Oceania Football Confederation to the Asian Football Confederation.
In 2018, Willi Ruttensteiner was appointed as technical director. A national football academy was founded and three supporting development centers were established.
The first home game of the Israel national football team was at Palms Ground on 6 April 1934 against Egypt in a 1934 World Cup qualifier. Prior to the formation of Israel, they also played at the Maccabi Ground for the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and Maccabiah Stadium. The first national team to represent the newly formed State of Israel back in 1948, had played at the Ramat Gan Stadium as part of 1954 FIFA World Cup qualification, in front of 55,000 spectators. The Ramat Gan Stadium would remain Israel's home stadium until 2013.
Since the construction of Sammy Ofer Stadium in the city of Haifa, Teddy Stadium in the city of Jerusalem, Turner Stadium in the city of Be'er Sheva, Netanya Stadium in the city of Netanya and Bloomfield Stadium in the city of Tel Aviv – the Israel national team has rotated their official home matches between the latter five.
The following is a list of match results in the last 12 months, as well as any future matches that have been scheduled.
Win Draw Loss Fixture
Times are CET/CEST, as listed by UEFA (local times, if different, are in parentheses).
The following players were called for the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying matches against Romania and Belarus on 9 and 12 September 2023, respectively.
Caps and goals are correct as of 13 September 2023, after the match against Belarus.
The following players have also been called up to the Israel squad within the last 12 months.
The following is a chart of yearly averages of Israel's FIFA World Ranking.
AFC Asian Cup
Owlapps.net - since 2012 - Les chouettes applications du hibou