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Religion Triggers Soccer Dispute

September 29, 2000

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ A youth soccer team averted forfeiting a game at a state tournament when an agreement was reached to accommodate Jewish players on Rosh Hashanah.

The rescheduling came hours before sundown Friday, the start of the Jewish New Year.

The Fairfield team from the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association was to have played a team from Avon on Saturday in the State Cup tournament.

The coach of the Fairfield boys’ team eventually agreed to play the game at any time. However, tournament rules forbid makeup games after Saturday.

Fairfield First Selectman John Metsopoulos said if the state association doesn’t sanction the makeup game, then Fairfield coach Don Houston says his team will forfeit and the two would play ``a friendly game.″

Six of the 16 players on the Avon team of 10- and 11-year-old boys are Jewish and would not play this weekend.

Metsopoulos and the Anti-Defamation League were drawn into the scheduling stalemate.

``Rosh Hashanah has been a major holiday in the Jewish faith for 5,761 years,″ Metsopoulos said. ``I don’t think it was too much to ask the state organization to check the calendar before they schedule these games.″

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