‘Not like Russia’: Israel will not be banned from soccer games

The Union of European Football Association (UEFA) will not ban Israel from playing, Secretary-General Theodore Theodoridis announced on Thursday. 

The announcement comes amid a call to boycott the Israeli team in world games led by 12 countries following the Israel-Hamas war, according to Sky News. 

In a letter penned to the 211 national soccer federations and the six regional confederation, President of the West Asian Football Federation, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, called upon the various associations to “join” his stance.

He added, they must all take “a decisive stand against the atrocities committed in Palestine and the war crimes in Gaza, by condemning the killing of innocent civilians including players, coaches, referees, and officials, the destruction of the soccer infrastructure, and taking a united front in isolating the Israeli Football Association from all soccer-related activities until these acts of aggression cease,” as per Sky News.  

Football / soccer ball (credit: INGIMAGE)

The Israeli Football Association responds 

Moshe Zu-Aretz, head of the Israeli Football Association was quoted in Israeli media as saying, “We were not surprised by the cynical and shameless move by a few associations, calling for the suspension of Israel from its membership in FIFA and its participation in international tournaments. 

In addition, he said, “The Football Association, together with brave and fair friends in FIFA, UEFA and other confederations and associations in the world, will lead a fight against dark forces and prevent fatal damage to the State of Israel…and to Israeli football.”

When asked about calls to ban Israel in a similar move to the boycott of Russia by FIFA, following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Theodoridis said, “There was no such discussion or such intention from the UEFA administration.

Furthermore, he stated, “They are two completely different situations between the two countries.”

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