Israeli soccer player Daniel Peretz has reportedly agreed to a long-term contract to join F.C. Bayern Munich, the powerhouse soccer club in Germany’s top-tier Bundesliga. According to multiple news reports, he will become the first Israeli to play for the club.
The 23-year-old goalkeeper has played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League and on Israel’s national team. The Tel Aviv native already holds a German passport.
Bayern Munich, the most decorated club in German football history, will pay a transfer fee of at least 5 million euros (around $5.4 million) to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Peretz’s deal is for five years and will be finalized later this week after he completes a medical examination. Peretz is expected to be the team’s third-string goalie, with the chance to compete for the primary backup slot.
The soccer club, which has won the Bundesliga an unprecedented 11 consecutive times, and 33 times in total, has a rich Jewish history. Kurt Landauer, an early Jewish president of the team who survived the Holocaust and returned to helm the team again in the late 1940s, played a crucial role in building Bayern Munich into the juggernaut it is today.
In 2015, the team renamed the plaza in front of its stadium Kurt-Landauer-Platz and erected a memorial plaque of his face. Four years later, after a fundraising campaign led by the Kurt Landauer Foundation, the team erected a statue of Landauer at its club headquarters.
Lothar Matthaus, a former Bayern Munich midfielder who went on to coach Maccabi Netanya in 2008-2009, said Israeli soccer is in a strong place.
“Israelis are very passionate about soccer,” Matthaus said in an interview with Forbes. “I experienced that — and that is still the case today.”