Israel allowed to host European matches outside Tel Aviv

UPDATED: 08:58, June 25, 2007

The UEFA executive committee has lifted the ban on Israeli clubs hosting opponents in European competition outside the Tel Aviv area, local daily Ha'aretz reported on Sunday.

Ha'aretz said that UEFA's decision was made on Saturday after a meeting in the Dutch town of Heerenveen.

The executive had reviewed the security situation in Israel and agreed to allow matches to be played not only in the Tel Aviv area but also in internationally recognized stadiums outside the region, namely Haifa, Jerusalem and Ashdod, said the report.

UEFA imposed a ban on Israel hosting matches in 2004, following a spate of suicide bombings. The ban lasted two years before being partially lifted, restricting teams to playing in the Tel Aviv area.

Recently, UEFA vice president Senes Erzik and national associations director Jacob Erel paid a visit to Israel.

The two recommended the lifting of the ban and passed on to UEFA 's executive committee a letter of guarantee from Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, who confirmed that he would ensure the safety of visiting teams, said the daily.

The latest relaxation will allow Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem to play its Champions League qualifying round opponents in Jerusalem, while another club Maccabi Haifa can host Intertoto Cup matches at Kiryat Eliezer, or the Haifa Municipal Stadium.

Officials from the aforementioned clubs welcomed UEFA's decision, saying that the move could help the two clubs achieve better results in their competitions.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---