Powar: Israeli football fans in a different league to Serbia

By Simon Griver, October 26, 2012
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With the line-up for next year’s European under-21 finals confirmed, Piara Powar has given his backing for Israel to host a successful competition.

Powar, director of FARE, is confident there will be no repeat of the ugly scenes that marred England’s recent match in Serbia where Danny Rose was racially abused before being sent off in a match that sealed England’s qualification.

"What happened in Serbia will not be replicated in Israel,” Powar said. "Serbia is a country that saw genocide committed not long ago and last week’s fans’ behaviour fits in with the recent history of their country. Uefa must take action.

"Most fans in Israel will be Israelis because our experience has been that fans do not travel to the under-21 finals.

If racism manifests itself it will be from regional tensions between Arabs and Jews

"If racism manifests itself it will be from regional tensions between Arabs and Jews. But the New Israel Fund’s campaign has done a lot of interesting work in reducing these tensions."

Itzik Shanan, director of NIF’s Kick Racism Out of Israeli football campaign, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary during the finals, agrees. He said: “Israeli fans will respect that this is a great international occasion and they will behave very well.”

Matches will be played at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium, Petach Tikvah, Netanya’s stadium, which is scheduled to open next month and Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, which is being expanded to a 30,000 capacity and will also host next summer’s Maccabiah Games opening ceremony.

The draw for the group stage takes place in Tel Aviv on November 28.

Last updated: 10:38am, October 26 2012