UEFA to Reconsider Ban on Soccer Games Played in Israel

IFA chairman: On august 14th, UEFA will meet to discuss returning home matches to Israel.

European soccer's governing body, UEFA, will reconsider its ban on matches played in Israel on September 14, the Israel Football Association (IFA) said on its Web site on Thursday.

Last month UEFA prevented Israeli clubs from hosting matches on home soil because of the war in the north of the country with Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, which ended with a United Nations-brokered ceasefire on August 14.

The IFA said chairman Iche Menahem received a letter on Thursday from UEFA chief executive Lars-Christer Olsson which said "UEFA is monitoring the improvement of the situation...and will discuss returning matches to Israel.?

The IFA report said Menahem would consult with UEFA officials at their Swiss headquarters before September 14.

However, a UEFA spokesman could not confirm the IFA report of a meeting.

The ban has forced Israel to host its first home Euro 2008 qualifying match against Andorra in the Netherlands next week.

Israeli clubs have also been affected and no qualifying matches in this season's Champions League or UEFA Cup were played in Israel.

Even if the ban is lifted, it will be too late for Maccabi Haifa to host UEFA Cup first round opponents, Litex Lovech of Bulgaria in Israel. They are due to play on the same day as the UEFA meeting and will have play at a neutral venue.

Hapoel Tel Aviv may benefit, however, as its home clash with Ukraine's Chornomorets Odessa is on September 28.