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Istanbul protest against Israeli football team

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Istanbul protest against Israeli football team


Pro-Palestinians have demonstrated in Istanbul against the presence of an Israeli football team.

Hundreds of protesters marched on the stadium ahead of the Europa League match between Besiktas and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have hit rock bottom amid Israel’s refusal to apologise for its commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, which killed nine mostly Turkish activists.

The Tel Aviv squad found themselves questioned about matters other than team tactics.

“We are a football team come here to play a football match. We have no political interests. So far we’ve been hosted in as professional and excellent a manner as befits a European game. We thank our hosts and everyone involved,” said the Maccabi coach, Mordenay Iwanir.

Security was tight. Many teams face a hostile reception away from home but this game had a distinctly political edge, with Israeli flags burned near the stadium.

Whether the tension affected Maccabi is not known, but Besiktas won the match 5-1.

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