World Cup praise for Columbia’s Jewish coach

Jose Pekerman (pictured), coach of the Colombian national team in the World Cup, is Jewish. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( Argentine soccer coach Jose Pekerman, who is Jewish, has been praised for leading Colombia’s national team to a major 2-0 victory over Uruguay at the World Cup, which sent the team to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time.

Pekerman began playing soccer with a Jewish Maccabi club in Argentina's Entre Rios Province. He coached Argentina's national club in the 2006 World Cup. Currently, he lives in the Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo in Buenos Aires.

Coaching Colombia's World Cup team, Pekerman got the country to qualify in second place in South America behind Argentina, which prompted Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to offer Pekerman Colombian citizenship, reported Reuters. After Columbia’s win over Uruguay, the Twitter hashtag #PekermanPresidente (Pekerman for president) gained popularity in Colombia.

"In the World Cup, every match is a battle," Pekerman said in June. "We hope to keep growing. We have many young players in our squad and this will be really good for them to gain experience."

Colombia faces tournament host Brazil in its next World Cup match on July 4.

Posted on July 2, 2014 .