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Uefa refuses to throw Israel out of European football despite Middle East protests

Israel line up ahead of the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying round group match away to Andorra  on November 21
The Israel football still team hope to qualify for this summer's European Championship - Getty Images/Martin Silva Cosentino

Uefa has “no intention” of throwing Israel out of the European Championship over the country’s response to the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks there.

The governing body’s general secretary, Theodore Theodoridis, ruled out imposing a ban on the country after a group of Middle East football associations called for it to be banished from the world game amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Those calls were led by Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the president of the Jordanian FA and West Asian Football Federation.

Russia have been banned from Fifa and Uefa over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine but Theodoridis rejected any comparison with the conflict in the Middle East. “There was no such discussion or such intention from the Uefa administration,” Theodoridis said after a Uefa conference in Paris. “They are two completely different situations between the two countries. Don’t forget the start of the war, you mentioned Ukraine, and the start of what is happening now, which is regrettable now, in the Middle East.”

The head of Israeli football earlier proclaimed he was “trusting Fifa” not to throw his country out of world football ahead of their Euro 2024 play-off semi-final against Iceland next month.

Niv Goldstein, the chief executive of the Israel Football Association, told Sky News: “I am trusting Fifa not to involve politics in football.

“We are against involving politicians in football and being involved in political matters in the sport in general.

“So, we are concentrating only on football matters and our dream is to qualify for the European Championship in 2024, and I’m looking forward to world peace.”

He added: “Obviously, we think there is a lot of difference between our situation and other situations that happened in the world.”

Goldstein spoke out after Prince Ali wrote to Fifa’s 211 national football federations and the game’s six regional confederations on behalf of a 12-nation group that includes the FAs of Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

His letter read: “We, the West Asian Football Federations, encompassing all its members, call upon Fifa, the Football Confederations, and Member Associations to join us in taking a decisive stand against the atrocities committed in Palestine and the war crimes in Gaza, by condemning the killing of innocent civilians including players, coaches, referees, and officials, the destruction of the football infrastructure, and taking a united front in isolating the Israeli Football Association from all football-related activities until these acts of aggression cease.”

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