In the wake of the terror attacks in Istanbul, UEFA decided to postpone two games scheduled to take place next week in Turkey, including Maccabi Haifa's second-round UEFA Cup game against Spain's Valencia that was slated to kick off in Izmir next Thursday. The match was rescheduled for Dec. 4. Izmir is serving as Israel's "home" venue for the second leg of play against Valencia because UEFA has banned games in Israel due to security concerns.
The other game postponed by soccer's European governing body yesterday was the Champions League contest between Turkey's Galatasary and Italy's Juventus. The game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was moved to Dec. 2.
UEFA asked Maccabi Haifa to arrange for an alternative venue for the game against Valencia in the event that the security situation in Turkey is still unsettled by Dec. 4. Maccabi Haifa made inquiries yesterday with the football association in Cyprus to check the possibility of staging the game there. The club plans to submit similar inquiries to the football associations in Romania and England today.
UEFA's decision to postpone the games came in response to a request from Juventus, which is slated to play Galatasary in Istanbul. Valencia, on the other hand, said that it did not ask UEFA to reschedule its game against Haifa. The Spanish club said that it had planned to come to Izmir as scheduled, despite the rash of bombings in Turkey. (Izmir is located some 400 kilometers from Istanbul.)
The announcement by UEFA did not surprise Maccabi Haifa, which received word of the bombings in Istanbul during its morning practice yesterday. The club's president, Jacob Shahar, said: "In light of the events, the decision UEFA made is logical."
The general manager of Maccabi Haifa, Itamar Chizik, said yesterday: "If there are changes and the game is not played in Turkey, we'll need to find another stadium. We'll talk to the heads of Valencia and see what they think."
Pini Balili, who plays for Istanbulspor in the Turkish league, heard an explosion as he was leaving his home, about to drive to practice. "My house is located two minutes from the area of the bombing," he said. "I opened the door and suddenly heard a powerful explosion. Within minutes, the streets were full of police cars and dozens of ambulances, just like in Israel after a terror attack. It was shocking and frightening."
Maccabi Haifa's coach, Roni Levy, has been talking with his counterpart at Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Eli Gutman, about transfering Nigerian midfielder Blessing Kaku to Haifa. Gutman is ready to release Kaku, but is asking to receive Michael Zandberg in exchange. Instead, Haifa is offering to send Dante Lopez and Eric Ejiofor to Be'er Sheva in a deal for Kaku.
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