Soccer matches in the south of Israel were cancelled Thursday, and the Israel Football Association (IFA) was considering calling off all weekend games, as international players expressed concerns over the rocket fire into Israel.
Following the escalation on the Gaza border and in light of the Home Front Command’s orders not to hold events with more than 100 people, the IFA announced the cancellation of four games planned for Friday and Saturday.
Even before Israel killed Hamas military chief, Ahmed Jabari, and launched Operation Pillar of Defense, international players from the southern cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon were moved to hotels in the center of the country.
The families of international players were scared, and some were thinking of leaving the country, the sports-news website Sport 5 reported.
Beersheba’s Portuguese international William Suarez was given permission to leave the country to visit his family. Sport One television network reported he was considering not returning at all.
Several sports figures, including players and managers, called on the association to delay the entire round of games as an act of solidarity.
The basketball world was also affected, and the police had to evaluate the situation as sirens blared in the Tel Aviv area an hour before Thursday’s Euroleague game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Spain’s B.C. Malaga. The teams were eventually given the green light to hold the game, which Maccabi lost, 64-62.