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Unrest in Gaza forces match postponement; U21 Euro draw in Tel Aviv in doubt

The Europa League match scheduled between Athletic Bilbao and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona has been postponed as UEFA continues to monitor the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza

Denis Doyle

There's been plenty on the news in the past week concerning the resumed hostilities between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Casualties are in the triple digits and climbing with no real end in sight. It's a horrible situation and while soccer isn't important when compared to the loss of human life, there are still issues that must be dealt with concerning scheduled matches and events in the region.

The first piece of news is that Thursday's Europa League match between Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and Athletic Bilbao has been called off. UEFA cited "the tense security situation in the region" for the decision to postpone the match, a decision that seems entirely reasonable considering the circumstances. According to UEFA's announcement, they will make a decision by the end of the week as to when the match will be played.

Athletic Bilbao had been scheduled to fly to Israel today for the match but after UEFA contacted the club and informed them of their decision about the match, they cancelled the trip.

Athletic spokesman Xavier Fernandez told the Associated Press,

"As a consequence (of UEFA's decision), we have not flown out there".

As for next Wednesday's U-21 European Championship draw that was scheduled to he held in Tel Aviv, there's still no decision as to whether or not the event will go ahead or be moved. Israel is scheduled to host the tournament next summer and UEFA President Michel Platini along with officials from the eight competing nations were supposed to be in Israel for the draw.