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Romania ready to host Israeli "home" Euro qualifiers

© Reuters 2002

BUCHAREST, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Romania is willing to host Israel's home' 2004 European championship qualifying matches because of the present troubles in the country, local football officials said on Wednesday.

European governing body UEFA ordered Israeli clubs and the national team to play their home matches in continental competitions and the European championship abroad because of security concerns.

"Romania could host in good Football Federation deputy general secretary Cristian Bivolaru told Reuters.

Israel, who are away to Malta on October 12, are scheduled to host Cyprus just four days later in a group one match.

"Romania play its match away against Liechtenstein on the same day (October 16), so we are able to schedule in best conditions for Israeli's match," Bivolaru said.

Bivolaru's statement follows earlier Israeli media reports that their national team might play the qualifiers in Romania. The finals will be staged in Portugal.

Other contenders in group one are Slovenia and France.

Israel's first Champions League representatives, Maccabi Haifa, have opted to play their home group games in Nicosia, Cyprus, while UEFA Cup hopefuls Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv will be playing their home fixtures in Sofia.

Israel clamped down on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat last week after two suicide bombings killed seven people.

Israeli troops have since demolished most of his Ramallah complex, penning the leader and more than 200 others in a single building as they press demands for the surrender of 50 suspected militants.

Reports provided by

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