Uefa clear Chelsea for visit to Israeli capital

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Uefa expects Chelsea's Uefa Cup game in Israel to go ahead next week but football's European governing body will keep an eye on the military situation in Afghanistan.

Uefa expects Chelsea's Uefa Cup game in Israel to go ahead next week but football's European governing body will keep an eye on the military situation in Afghanistan.

Chelsea are due to play Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Israeli capital on 18 October, but there are fears that Israel could be a target of reprisals from Islamic fundamentalists after the United States and British raids on Afghanistan.

Mike Lee, Uefa's director of communications, said: "We would expect the game to go ahead in Tel Aviv and be played in a safe and secure environment. However, in the light of events going on in Afghanistan we will continue to monitor the security situation closely and keep in contact with the clubs."

Uefa will meet in Prague today to discuss a rearranged date and venue for the crucial World Cup qualifier between Israel and Austria. The original fixture was scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv last Sunday, but it was postponed after a passenger plane bound from Israel plunged into the Black Sea.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, is eager to wait until the cause of the crash is determined before finalising arrangements for the game.

Beppo Mauhart, president of the Austrian football association, said: "We are now in a situation where we have to be patient."

The Austria coach Otto Baric is demanding at least seven days' preparation for the qualifier. "I have a lot of young and new players." he said. Austria are three points clear of Israel in Group Seven and need a draw to secure a play-off meeting with Turkey.

Frank Leboeuf, the former Chelsea defender, claimed yesterday that the French Government had put players' lives "in danger" in Saturday's abandoned international against Algeria.

Leboeuf accused the Government of putting pressure on the French football federation to press ahead with the first meeting between France and its former colony.

The game was abandoned after 74 minutes when Algerian fans invaded the Stade de France pitch, forcing players to flee to the safety of the dressing-rooms.

Despite security worries following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the US, the French authorities had decided to play the game against the north African country, who gained independence from France in 1962. However, the France defender said: "After the game I went completely mad. I believe that we have not been protected enough. The game was politically necessary, but the Government put pressure on the [French federation] so that it could be organised faster.

"Our lives were put in danger. Les Bleus were used for political issues. If they had listened to the players, the game would have been postponed to another date because of the current international context. I feel very confused, we did our job, but others did not take their responsibilities."

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