Israel to appeal UEFA decision

The IFA is hoping to receive a more sympathetic ear from the CAS than it has from UEFA.

The Israel Football Association decided on Tuesday that it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if UEFA does not change Monday's decision that next week's UEFA Cup ties can not be held in Israel. The IFA is hoping to receive a more sympathetic ear from the CAS than it has from UEFA. Early in the day, IFA chairman Itzhak (Itche) Menahem sent a stern letter to UEFA questioning the motives and logic of moving the matches away from Tel Aviv. "This decision has a clear scent of political interest and implies a bow before pressure imposed by Europe's big clubs, a surprising fact in light of UEFA's policy of equality and Fair Play," Menahem wrote. UEFA's latest decision came only four days after it decided to uphold a ruling from April 2004 that allowed Israeli clubs and the national team to host games in the Tel Aviv area. "We would like to understand what has changed in the security situation during the four days difference between the letters, who are the persons/experts that observed the security situation and reached the conclusion that the situation indeed deteriorated," Menahem questioned. Hapoel and Bnei Yehuda did not announce where they plan to move their home legs despite having been given until noon Tuesday to provide alternative venues with security guarantees from the hosting national associations and the relevant public authorities. As things currently stand, Maccabi Haifa and Betar Jerusalem are still set to host Liverpool and Dinamo Bucharest, respectively, at the end of August. UEFA announced on Monday that a decision will be made on August 7 whether Haifa and Betar will have to play their home matches abroad. "Why two weeks ahead? A lot can happen in two weeks, as clearly UEFA changed its position within four days, why decide two weeks in advance?," Menahem wrote. The IFA is now waiting for UEFA's response so it can consider its next steps. Menahem also invited UEFA personnel to come to Tel Aviv and "get the real impression of the situation and realize that nothing but nothing has changed in the security circumstances." Despite no clear decision concerning Betar's matches, its chairman Vladimir Shklar is supporting Menahem. "UEFA's decision is very disappointing,"he said. "It is a big blow to Israeli sport and particularly Israeli soccer. I do not understand why UEFA changed its mind as the situation in Israel has not changed." Shklar also backed the IFA's claim that the decision was made due to the pressure imposed by Europe's big clubs. "It is a pity UEFA gave in to the pressure of the European clubs who were supposed to play the Israeli sides. I hope the IFA will be able to change the decision though it seems hopeless." Meanwhile, Bucharest coach Mircea Rednic claimed in a press conference on Tuesday that the match against Betar will be played in Antwerp, Belgium. "The second leg against Jerusalem will be played in Antwerp," Rednic said. "I have inside information from UEFA, Betar will not host us in Israel." Betar spokesman Oded Zargari denied the claim. "We haven't made any arrangements yet and we expect UEFA to allow us to host our match in Israel," he said.