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The Austrian FA stooped to a new low yesterday in their latest bid to get FIFA to intervene and postpone Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Israel at Ramat Gan. This time, they are fretting about their food.

The Austrians complain they will not be able to get a freshly-cooked meal on Saturday, the day of the game, because of the kashrut laws governing the preparation of food in hotels. They have asked FIFA to contact the IFA clarify what they will and will not be able to do.

The Austrians claim a cold meal would not be enough as they prepare for the game on Saturday night, and insist the game should be postponed by 24 hours, thus putting the onus on the IFA to pander to their whims, as it was Israel that requested the game be played Saturday night.

While IFA officials sarcastically scoffed at the Austrians' new ploy, it is being treated seriously and an immediate response was drafted, reassuring FIFA there would be no problem and the Austrians' chef would be allowed to work in the kitchens on the day of the game.

"We sent a letter to FIFA telling them the Austrians have no reason to be concerned, they will receive hot food, and if they are not satisfied, the IFA will see to it that they can go out to eat at one of the best restaurants in the vicinity of their hotel," IFA spokesman Shaul Eisenberg said.

But FIFA's demands are more specific, asking for reassurances that the Austrians will be able to eat a meal cooked freshly, and not heated food. A FIFA spokesman yesterday told Ha'aretz if the demand is not met, it is possible the game will have to be postponed by a day.

Ronnen Nuessenbaum, the manager of the David Intercontinental Hotel, attached a letter to that of the IFA in which he explained it will not be possible for the Austrians to cook steaks, spaghetti or soup, as the Austrians had demanded. This has caused no little anger in the Austrian camp, who are upset that IFA chairman Gavri Levy did not inform them or FIFA of the potential problem when they rescheduled the fixture in Prague earlier this month.

Deputy chancellor snubbed

Susan Reiss-Passer, the deputy Austrian chancellor, the chair of Joerg Haider's far-right Freedom Party will be traveling with the Austrian delegation. Reiss-Passer, who is also her country's sports minister was originally told there was no room for her in the VIP box at the national stadium, and only after the Austrian embassy intervened was a place found for her in the box.

As this is a private visit, Reiss-Passer will not meet any government officials, although she will meet with Roman Bronfman MK.