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Soccer's world governing body, FIFA, yesterday asked the Israel Football Association for a written undertaking from local security authorities, guaranteeing the safety of the Austrian delegation for next month's crucial World Cup qualifier.

But the Public Security Ministry is refusing to write the guarantee FIFA is demanding. The minister for Science, Culture & Sport, Matan Vilnai, is planning to ask his security minister Uzi Landau, to intervene on behalf of the IFA.

The Austrian Football Association has been putting enormous pressure on FIFA in a last-ditch effort to have the match moved from Ramat Gan to a neutral venue. Encouraged by FIFA's decision to delay its ruling on their claims, Austrian officials were optimistic that the game would be moved.

Beppo Mauhart, president of the AFA, told Israeli journalists yesterday that there is a "good chance that FIFA will respond to [Austrian] claims with understanding."

Austrian coach Otti Baric will announce his preliminary squad of 23 players tomorrow and if FIFA orders that the game go ahead, the squad will meet up in Vienna next week to begin its preparations.

But before any training is done, Baric intends to speak to each of the players and find out who is willing to travel to Israel. According to Mauhart, players will not be fined for opting not to play in the game.