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Brussels declines hosting UEFA match between Israel and Belgium over security concerns

Netherlands' goalkeeper Remko Pasveer and Belgium's Amadou Onana during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between the Netherlands and Belgium, Sept. 25, 2022.
Netherlands' goalkeeper Remko Pasveer and Belgium's Amadou Onana during the UEFA Nations League soccer match between the Netherlands and Belgium, Sept. 25, 2022. Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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The Belgian capital declined to host a UEFA Nations League match between the two teams scheduled for September due to the "dramatic situation in Gaza".

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The city of Brussels said hosting a potential UEFA Nations League match would be a security stress and difficult for city officials to organise.

The match was scheduled to take place at the Stade Roi Baudouin on 6 September.

Brussels' first alderman, Benoit Hellings, said on Wednesday that he had thoroughly discussed the situation with the federal government, police forces, and the Belgian Football Federation (URBSFA).

In a statement, Hellings said that the game would provoke “major (counter-) demonstrations, compromising the safety of spectators, players, residents and our police forces alike.”

“The Red Devils’ matches have always been moments of unity and togetherness. The humanitarian and security situation in Gaza and its repercussions force the (city) to inform the URBSFA that it is not possible to organise this match at the Stade Roi Baudouin.”

Other matches hosted in Belgium against France on 14 October and Italy on 14 November will go ahead as planned.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators have taken to the streets repeatedly in Brussels since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The Belgian capital had been on security alert before the war in Gaza started, as Belgium is a target for extremist attacks.

Most recently, a football game between Belgium and Sweden was suspended after a gunman fatally shot two Swedish fans in Brussels before kick-off started.

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