paz pines 88.
(photo credit: )
Minister of Sport Ophir Paz-Pines has assured European soccer's governing body that security arrangements will be of "the highest standard" should next month's Champions League and UEFA Cup matches involving Israeli teams be played in the Tel Aviv area as currently planned.
In a letter to UEFA director of professional football Giorgio Marchetti, Paz-Pines wrote Sunday, "As it was informed to UEFA before, Israel is committed to provide all necessary security to every visiting national teams, clubs and officials and this commitment stands. All security arrangements for each match will accordingly be of the highest standard."
Maccabi Haifa is scheduled to play against English FA Cup holder Liverpool in Ramat Gan on August 22 or 23 in the second leg of a Champions League third qualifying round tie.
In the UEFA Cup second qualifying round, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda are to host Slovenian side Domzale and Lokomotiv Sofia of Bulgaria, respectively, on August 10, while Betar Jerusalem is preparing to welcome Romania's Dinamo Bucharest on 24 August.
Controversy over the venue for the Israel legs of the two-match ties grew over the weekend after Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez said he believed the conflict in the North meant it would be "crazy" for the English team to play in Israel, challenging a decision by UEFA made just last week to allow games in Israel.
It has been reported that all three of the Eastern European sides have said they would not travel to Israel to play their UEFA Cup matches. However, the clubs in Israel said they had not been contacted by UEFA or the clubs directly. UEFA has said it has yet to make a decision on whether to move the games to a neutral venue.
"We haven't heard anything from Dinamo Bucharest and we expect UEFA will not change their decision about the game being in Israel," said Betar spokesman Oded Zargazi to The Jerusalem Post.