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Vaccination champ Israel hopes to host major European soccer matches

As Europe’s inoculation drive lags, Israel’s soccer federation floats offer to stage decisive Champions League, Euro 2020 matches

Erik Lamela (L) of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League qualifying round match between Shkendija and Tottenham Hotspur at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, on September 24, 2020. (Robert Atanasovski/AFP)
Erik Lamela (L) of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Europa League qualifying round match between Shkendija and Tottenham Hotspur at Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, on September 24, 2020. (Robert Atanasovski/AFP)

With Israel far ahead of Europe in its coronavirus vaccination campaign, Israeli officials are hoping the Jewish state could host some decisive UEFA Champions League and Euro 2020 matches this summer, including possibly the finals.

The Israel Football Association reached out to UEFA last week with an offer to host some games, Channel 12 reported on Sunday.

UEFA said it would positively consider the offer, particularly if the continent’s thus-far lackluster efforts to inoculate its population continue to lag, the network said.

Israel’s coronavirus morbidity rates continue to be high, but its vaccination drive is leading globally, with over 3.8 million of its 9 million citizens receiving at least the first vaccine dose. Europe, by contrast, has seen a slow rollout of the immunizations.

In this file photo taken on September 21, 2016, a screen displays the logo for the 2020 UEFA European Championship soccer tournament in London during a launch event. (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP)

Last year’s European Championship was postponed for a year because of the coronavirus outbreak. The tournament is now scheduled to be played from June 11 to July 11.

The championship’s final typically attracts a broadcast audience of 300 million worldwide. It made UEFA a profit of 830 million euros ($912 million) four years ago.

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