Security Concerns Force Cancellation of Israeli Team's Soccer Match

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A friendly soccer match between Israeli club Maccabi Haifa and the Austrian Bundesliga-based Paderborn has been canceled over security concerns, according to officials in Kirchbichi, the Austrian town where the game would have been played.

The decision comes after the Israeli team's last match against French club Lille in Bischofshofen, a town near Salzburg, on Wednesday prematurely ended in chaos at the 85th minute. About 20 protestors waving Palestinian flags interrupted play and stormed the pitch, clashing with players. 

"Because of the events in Bischofshofen, there are security concerns," Otto Lichtmannegger, head of the mayor's office, told Reuters. "On top of that, our sports field is in the center of town."

The video from the game shows the protestors descending onto the pitch:

Tweets following the incident noted the diversity of the Maccabi Haifa roster.

Maccabi Haifa's general manager Itamar Chizik, echoed Rosenberg's observation in a statement after the Lille match was abandoned:

"We came here for sport, for football. Our club is well known, we have in our club hundreds of Muslim players, in the A team we have five Muslim players as well as Jewish players and Christian players.

We're not dealing with politics, we are a football team. In Haifa [where the team is based], we are living with peace with all religions. You can imagine by yourself the reason why (this group) was trying to spoil our camp. I believe most of them don't even know the reason they demonstrate for. But it is not our problem, we came to play football and that's it — very clear, very simple."

A new location for the match is expected to be announced later on Friday.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.