Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Israeli FA bidding to host 2008 UEFA Cup final


Sports like most things seems to get bogged down in politics and Israeli sport has long been seen as a conduit of its political image. Israel has long been banned from certain tournaments, like the 2004 World Chess Federation championship and in other tournaments competitors refused to compete with Israelis.
Rarely has an international sporting event been played in Israel, partly due to some nations ostracising Israel and partly due to security concerns. So it is refreshing to hear that Israel is lodging a bid to host European football's second most important occasion. Israel's FA has lodged a bid with European soccer's ruling body to host the 2008 UEFA Cup final in Tel Aviv, the association said on Wednesday.
A Hebrew report on the IFA's website said it had proposed the 44,000-seat National Stadium and that all the relevant bid paperwork was being sent to UEFA.
The deadline for bids is Friday, March 17. The IFA said England, Germany, Spain and Turkey were also hoping to host the match, though their list could not be confirmed by UEFA.
IFA chairman Iche Menahem said the relevant Israeli authorities, including Tourism Minister Avraham Hirschson, backed the bid for the final - which the Jewish state hopes to host as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.
"The minister's letter has been attached to our bid request. The very fact that we are included in the candidates list is important. We hope we will have the honour of hosting the match," Menahem said.
The daily Yedioth Ahronoth said Hirschson committed "any amount" of government funding should the stadium, originally built in the 1950s but renovated several times since, needs a further upgrade to host the final.

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