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Soccer: Opening of Israel's Premier League delayed due to Gaza war

August 21, 2014 16:04

IDF's Home Front Command updated its guidelines and announced that 40-80 kilometers from Gaza border, gatherings of 1,000 people or more are not to take place in open areas.

Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv striker Eden Ben-Basat. (photo credit:MACCABI TEL AVIV WEBSITE)

The start of the Premier League season scheduled for this weekend was postponed on Thursday as a result of the ongoing security situation.

The 2014/15 season was to begin with the match between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya on Saturday evening, with four more games scheduled for Saturday.

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Reigning-champion Maccabi Tel Aviv was slated to visit Maccabi Petah Tikva on Sunday, while Maccabi Haifa was set to host Bnei Sakhnin in the official opening of the new Sammy Ofer Stadium on Monday.

However, following the resumption of the rocket fire on Wednesday, the IDF’s Home Front Command updated its guidelines and announced that in locations within a range of 40-80 kilometers of the Gaza border, gatherings of 1,000 people or more are not to take place in open areas.

With matches due to go ahead in Ashdod, Beersheba and Tel Aviv this weekend, the league had little option but to postpone the action, with all National League encounters also being put off to a later date.

The decision on when to eventually start the league will be made according to developments in the security situation.

Abu Obeida, the spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, had said on Wednesday that Hamas would fire rockets at soccer stadiums in Israel on Saturday.

The postponement of this weekend’s action doesn’t bode well for the prospect of the Israel national team hosting Belgium at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem in its first Euro 2016 qualifier on September 9.

While Israeli clubs have been forced to host their home matches in European competitions in Cyprus over the past month, the Israel Football Association, the Belgium FA and UEFA had agreed to postpone the decision regarding the Euro 2016 qualifier until the final week of August.

However, following the ongoing rocket fire over recent days, it seems unlikely UEFA will allow the match to take place in Israel when it rules on the matter next week.

Assuming that is the case, the IFA will try to postpone the match to a later date rather than host it in Cyprus.
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