Belgium cuts off ticket sales for soccer match against Israel over ‘security concerns’

No details given for move affecting September UEFA Nations League game; Asian soccer federation backs Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel from FIFA over Gaza war

File - Israel's players celebrate after the end of the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Albania and Israel at Air Albania stadium in Tirana, Albanian, June 10, 2022. Israel won 2-1.(AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)
File - Israel's players celebrate after the end of the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Albania and Israel at Air Albania stadium in Tirana, Albanian, June 10, 2022. Israel won 2-1.(AP Photo/Franc Zhurda)

Ticket sales for a Belgium-Israel soccer match in Brussels as part of the UEFA Nations League have been paused because of security concerns.

No details were available over what concerns led officials to stop selling tickets for the game, scheduled for September 6 at King Baudouin Stadium.

“The Royal Belgian Football Union is in constant contact with the security services, the city of Brussels and the federal government,” the Belgian soccer body said in a statement on Thursday. “The security situation is being analyzed and developments are being closely monitored.”

“Safety comes first, always,” Belgian soccer chief Piet Vandendriessche said.

Ticket sales for other Belgium home matches against France on October 14 and Italy on November 14 are going ahead as planned.

Hundreds of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators have repeatedly taken to the streets of Brussels since the start of the war in Gaza, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

Belgium has been hit repeatedly by extremist attacks. Last year, a soccer game between Belgium and Sweden was suspended at halftime following a gunman fatally shooting two Swedes in Brussels before kickoff.

Police patrol outside the King Baudouin Stadium, after a match between Belgium and Sweden was suspended, after a shooting in the center of Brussels, October 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Sylvain Plazy)

Meanwhile, the Asian Football Confederation gave its backing to a Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel from FIFA due to the ongoing war in Gaza at its congress in Bangkok on Thursday, as the regional body also abolished term limits for its senior office bearers.

AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa voiced his support for the Palestine Football Association’s motion ahead of Friday’s FIFA congress, which seeks to “adopt immediate and appropriate sanctions against Israeli teams.”

“The AFC is only as strong as its members and when one suffers, all its other members are affected,” Sheikh Salman told delegates.

“The AFC stands together with the Palestine FA, and we join them in seeking effective football-related solutions to the grievances raised by the Palestine FA in their proposal.

“It is our duty to support the Palestine FA for a swift and effective resolution in line with the rules, regulations and statutes of the AFC and FIFA.”

The proposal was sent by the Palestinians to FIFA on March 11 and will be discussed during the body’s annual gathering after being added to the agenda with the support of the Algerian, Jordanian, Syrian and Yemeni federations.

Palestinian forward Zaid Qunbar celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup Group C soccer match against Hong Kong at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha on January 23, 2024. (Giuseppe Cacade/AFP)

AFC delegates stood for a minute’s silence in remembrance of the victims of the war in Gaza and were shown a video produced by the Palestine FA highlighting the destruction caused by fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino touched on the matter in remarks to delegates as he called for a united front in efforts to deal with issues both within and outside the sport.

“We are all suffering with what is going on in Palestine. We pray for the mothers who lose their children and we pray for the mothers who lose their children everywhere in the world,” he said.

“Football can do only very little because to change situations everywhere in the world which are tragic, all we can do is to show unity because football is what unites everyone.”

File – FIFA President Ganni Infantino addresses the 78th Conmebol Congress in Luque, Paraguay, April 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

Vowing to destroy Hamas and return the hostages, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza which has left over 35,000 people dead, according to local health authorities.

The figures issued by the Hamas-run health ministry cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

An estimated 15,000 terror operatives have been killed in Gaza amid the war, according to Israeli officials. The IDF also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. Two hundred and seventy-eight IDF soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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