Due to the severity of the Israel-Hamas conflict, UEFA has taken the difficult but necessary decision of postponing all football matches scheduled to be played in Israel during the next two weeks. At least 700 lives have been lost as part of this devastating conflict – marking one of its most consequential escalations episodes ever seen in decades.
One highly-anticipated fixture that fell prey to this unfortunate turn of events was the Euro 2024 qualifying Group I match between Israel and Switzerland at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium – fans had anticipated its scheduled kickoff, however due to ongoing conflict it will now have to be postponed until more peaceful times arrive.
Israel’s European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Estonia and Germany – scheduled for October 12th and 17th respectively – have also been delayed, serving as an indictment of how conflicts like this take a toll far beyond battlegrounds.
UEFA has taken action beyond suspending senior teams; an under-17 mini-tournament set to feature Israel, Belgium, Gibraltar and Wales has also been suspended owing to regional conflicts. This tournament had originally been scheduled to run from Wednesday until 17 October; now its fate remains unclear as nations of this region deal with its consequences.
UEFA announced its decision in a statement: “UEFA will monitor this situation closely and remain in close communication with all teams involved before taking decisions regarding new dates or potential adjustments to other scheduled fixtures.
UEFA has also indicated that they will take time to determine if Israel can safely participate in their Euro 2024 qualifier against Kosovo in Prishtina. As conflict erupts, decisions concerning player safety, officials welfare and fan enjoyment remain at the core of UEFA’s considerations.
Football has long been seen as a source of joy and unity; however, recent events show us just how deeply football can be affected by world realities. At present, the footballing community joins other global stakeholders in hoping for a quick and peaceful resolution of Israel-Hamas conflict so we can all celebrate together on the pitch again!