High security as Israeli side Maccabi arrive in Turkey

By Jennifer Lipman, September 14, 2011

Players for Israeli football club Maccabi Tel Aviv have arrived in Istanbul for a Europa League match.

The team was greeted by more than 2,500 policemen, and throughout their stay in Turkey players will be under police protection.

Maccabi take on Bestikas JK on Thursday night at the Inönü Stadium, but there are concerns that political rivalry will spill over on to the pitch following the diplomatic spat between Israel and Turkey over the Gaza flotilla.

Maccabi requested a special representative from UEFA to oversee security arrangements. The team's manager banned players from leaving their hotel except for training purposes and fans were advised to show support without wearing team shirts. Bestikas also told Turkish fans not to be inhospitable.

Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir said his team was there to play and was not interested in politics. He added: "We are not concerned anything will happen to us.

"It is very strange to be travelling to a match abroad with no-one talking about soccer. Clearly we would have preferred that the situation would be more calm, but it shouldn't affect our play."

Last updated: 2:29pm, September 14 2011