European football giants cancel Israel pre-season match over security

Italian footballing giants Juventus were set to square off against Spanish side Atlético Madrid in Tel Aviv this weekend but the match was postponed amid renewed hostilities in the region.

European football giants cancel Israel pre-season match over security
Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 6, 2022. Photo: AFP

A pre-season friendly match between Spanish side Atlético Madrid and Italian giants Juventus which was scheduled to take place in Israel this weekend has been cancelled because of “security” concerns, the two teams announced on Saturday.

The match was due to take place at the Bloomfield stadium in Tel Aviv on Sunday but a renewed surge in hostilities in the region prompted the promoters Comtec Group to call it off.

“Due to the latest developments, the friendly between Atletico Madrid and Juventus, scheduled in Israel, has been cancelled,” said Juventus in a statement.

“Due to the current security situation, Comtec Group announces that the match between Atletico Madrid and Juventus, scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday 7 August at Bloomfield Stadium, will not be played.”

Israel hit Gaza with air strikes on Saturday and a Palestinian militant group retaliated with a barrage of rocket fire, in the territory’s worst escalation of violence since last year.

Juventus start their Serie A campaign with a home tie against Sassuolo on August 15 while Diego Simeone’s Atletico play their La Liga opener against Getafe the same day.

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Spain continues fight against ‘excessive’ Rugby World Cup exclusion

The Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) has announced that it will file an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to rescind its exclusion from the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Spain continues fight against 'excessive' Rugby World Cup exclusion

The FER said the ruling, which was upheld by World Rugby last month, on the grounds that they fielded an ineligible player during qualifying was “excessive” and the result of a “deception” in which it was the victim.

The management committee, which is running the federation following the resignation of its president Alfonso Feijóo, “has decided to appeal to CAS concerning the sanction imposed” by the judicial committee of World Rugby.

After securing their place at the World Cup, it emerged that South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018 and featured in two qualifiers against the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021, was deemed not to have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

At the end of April, an independent judicial commission imposed a fine of £25,000 (nearly €30,000) on the Spanish federation and deducted points for the two matches, taking them out of a qualifying position.

Romania have provisionally taken Spain’s place while Portugal have taken the spot vacated by Romania in the final qualification event taking place in November.

After World Rugby rejected their initial appeal, the Spanish federation has decided to go to CAS in view of what it considers to be “an excessive sanction and a consequence a deception suffered by the FER itself”.

On May 26th, the FER expelled van den Berg’s club Alcobendas on the grounds that three members of the club falsified the dates of entry and exit from Spain on the player’s passport so that he could fulfill the criteria of eligibility.

It is the second time that Spain have missed out on World Cup qualification on these grounds.

In 2018, along with Romania and Belgium, they were were sanctioned for fielding ineligible players, paving the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.