August 23, 2006

Horse 619 - I Wish It Was About Football

Liverpool drew 1-1 last night against Israelli side Maccabi Haifa to put them through to the next round of the Champions League 3-2 on aggregate, but this was less about a display of football than a battle of political wills.

The match was held in Kyyv in the Ukraine after UEFA decided that the safety of players was a concern. Rather than fly into Haifa which at the time of the conflict would have been difficult given the Lebabon-Israel border conflict, it was decided that neutral territory would be used and Kyyv was selected because of its relatively large Jewish community.

The Israelli FA took offence at this and before the match accused UEFA of being racist and anti-semitic and specifically Liverpool FC of being afraid and "chicken" for not wanting to fly to Haifa which they contend was not actually being bombed at the time.

Has anyone actually told Israel why they're part of UEFA in the first place? The reason I thought would have been obvious. Israel like their immediate neighbours should logically be playing in Asia. Can you imagine the furore that would be created if an Israelli football team landed in say Tehran, Lebanon or Damascus to play a match? Eventually Israel would be drawn against an Arabic nation and the world of football is fraught with violence. Need I remind people of La guerra de fĂștbol which was a five-day war fought by El Salvador and Honduras in 1969 after the two nations came together for a qualifier for Mexico '70.

Israel are also ironically are part of the European Broadcasting Union. Most famously Dana International from Israel won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest following much pre-contest hype and publicity due to the fact that she is a male-to-female transsexual.

I really don't understand why Israel is so intent on chipping Europe. Someone a long time ago wrote: I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. This rings true today and I for one am thankful that Liverpool knocked out Maccabi Haifa. Not because I'm anti-semitic, but because I happen to think that getting on with playing football is a far better pursuit than political will... and that small matter that I happen to be a Liverpool fan.

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