Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 18 News List

UEFA moves Israeli clubs' `home' games

AP , NYON, SWITZERLAND

Two Israeli clubs in the UEFA Cup will play their "home" qualifying matches in neutral countries.

UEFA said on Monday it made the decision in view of the security situation in the region, where Israel is fighting Hezbollah. UEFA still hasn't decided on the venues.

Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC plays its home tie against Domzale of Slovenia on Aug. 8, and Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv is at home to Lokomotiv Sofia of Bulgaria on Aug. 10.

Israel Football Association chairman Iche Menachem rejected the decision and called on UEFA officials to come to Israel to see the situation first-hand.

"We will respond severely and we have no intention to let this decision pass unchallenged," he said. "I would like UEFA [officials] to take this decision while they are here in Israel and not from their offices in Switzerland."

UEFA said it will decide on Monday whether Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem will host Romania's Dinamo Bucharest in a second-leg match on Aug. 24. UEFA will also decide on Monday whether Maccabi Haifa will play in Israel against Liverpool in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Liverpool is at home for the first leg on Aug. 9, with the second leg set for Israel two weeks later.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said on Friday it was "totally unacceptable" to travel to Israel.

Menachem said 1980s British pop group Depeche Mode was scheduled to perform tomorrow in front of 55,000 fans in Israel.

"There is no reason why Liverpool FC shouldn't turn up here as well," he said.

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