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Israel awaits Uefa kick-off with pride

    Israel is all set to stage the Uefa European under-21 Championships on June 5 — the most prestigious international sports tournament it has ever held.

    Despite major protests by anti-Israel groups, Uefa has stuck by its decision to award Europe’s second largest football tournament to Israel.

    Announcing a £750,000 government grant for the tournament last week, Sports Minister Limor Livnat said: “This tournament makes an important contribution to Israel’s tourism, image and sport and the government recognises this.”

    Much of the government grant will be used for extra policing, although the organisers are not expecting any serious incidents.

    England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Holland and Norway will compete alongside Israel, which qualified as the host. More than 15,000 visitors and TV audiences of 150 million are expected.

    The final will be played in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on June 18, which has been enlarged to hold 31,000 for the event. Other matches will be staged in Tel Aviv, Netanya and Petah Tikva.

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