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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

Protesters against Israel's military offensive in Gaza attacked Israeli football players "at a friendly match in Austria on Wednesday evening, stopping play five minutes before the end," according to Georgina Prodhan of REUTERS. Salzburg police said on Thursday that around 20 people with flags and placards, mostly Austrians of Turkish origin, "stormed the pitch shouting slogans about the Gaza conflict." Police said there were clashes with the players from Israeli Premier League side Maccabi Haifa, which was playing a friendly against Ligue 1 side Lille in Bischofshofen in Salzburg province, "but no one was injured and police were quickly able to calm the situation" (REUTERS, 7/24). In Jerusalem, Allon Sinai wrote punches and profanities "were exchanged between the handful of youngsters, who waved Palestinian and Turkish flags throughout the match, and the Haifa players, who were mainly stunned by the scenes." Haifa only finally made its way back to the hotel with a police escort after more than an hour, "with some of the protesters waiting for the team outside the stadium" (JERUSALEM POST, 7/24). In London, James Legge wrote Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann condemned the "violent pitch invasion by pro-Palestinian protesters." Faymann: "Guests who are staying in Austria have the right to do so in safety, regardless of their origin and religion" (INDEPENDENT, 7/24).

The Croatian Football Federation has said that it will investigate Man City's claim that "a player was racially abused" during an U21 game, according to the BBC. Patrick Vieira took his side off the pitch after Seko Fofana, 20, "complained he suffered racial abuse during a friendly against HNK Rijeka on Tuesday." The CFF said in a statement, "We will have a good look into the matter. We follow a strong no-racism policy." The CFF said it was "in the process of gathering information" relating to the incident, adding, "If there are any decisions to be made we'll make it public on our website" (BBC, 7/24).

The Dutch FA (KNVB) said on Wednesday that "during these black days" it was "too early to discuss the country's participation at the 2018 World Cup in Russia in the wake of the Malaysian Airlines flight crash." The KNVB said in a statement, "Different people have asked the KNVB questions about (taking part in) the 2018 World Cup in Russia. ... The KNVB thinks that it is more appropriate for discussion about the future World Cup in Russia to be held at a later date, when the investigation of the disaster is completed" (AFP, 7/24). ... The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has approved the use of vanishing spray for La Liga and the second division from the '14-15 season onward. Spain is the second country in Europe to "adopt the spray" after the Italian federation approved it last week (AS, 7/23). ... The Court of Arbitration for Sport has agreed to hold an "express hearing during the second week of August" on the case of Uruguayan Barcelona striker Luis Suárez, who is "serving a four-month ban" from all football-related activities for "biting an opposing player during the World Cup" (EFE, 7/24). ... ManU announced the launch of United for Heroes -- a U.S. initiative that will honor military and government personnel. The campaign will provide complimentary and discounted tickets for ManU's Int'l Champions Cup matches in Denver and Washington, D.C. in association with tournament organizer Relevent Sports (ManU).