Netanyahu jumps on U-21 bandwagon for upcoming Euros

PM addresses national team ahead of first match of the 14-day UEFA tournament on Wednesday.

June 3, 2013 05:36
1 minute read.
THE ISRAEL UNDER-21 national team with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before UEFA Championship.

Bibi with U-21 national team 370. (photo credit: Emil Salman/Courtesy)

The Israel Under-21 national team took a short break from its hectic training schedule on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The team presented Netanyahu with a jersey with his name on it and an autographed ball and the Prime Minister spoke of his excitement ahead of the start of the European Championship in Netanya on Wednesday.

“Along with all Israelis, I am excited. I watch football and sometimes play and this has a price at my age. It is pure enjoyment and a great love.”

“The achievement of the tournament is that it is happening in the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “I am pleased by UEFA President Michel Platini’s strong stand that the tournament take place here.”

Israel hosts Norway in the first match of the 14-day tournament on Wednesday before facing Italy at Bloomfield Stadium three days later. The blue and white will complete its Group A games versus England at Teddy Stadium on June 11.

Group B will be contested between defending champion Spain, Germany, Netherlands and Russia.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals to be played on June 15, with the final to take place at Teddy on June 18.

Of the 250,000 tickets released for sale, 176,000 have already been bought, with four matches sold-out. There are no longer any tickets available for Israel’s opener against Norway as well as its match against Italy, with Spain’s encounters with Germany and the Netherlands also already guaranteed to be played in front of packed stadiums.

After Germany and England arrived on Sunday, defending champion Spain will be the final team to land in Israel on Monday.

“I thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for the understanding that this tournament is of national importance and will greatly help the State of Israel’s public diplomacy overseas by showing a beautiful Israel that loves sports,” said Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon.

“On paper, our team has no chance, but soccer is the greatest sport because the better team on paper doesn’t always win.

Heart and soul on a given day can make the difference.”

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