| Turkey’s volatile fans will be the hardest hit by these postponements
London: Uefa has postponed two European club competition ties in Turkey following the bomb attacks in Istanbul on Thursday which killed at least 26 people.
European soccer’s governing body said the Champions League Group D match between Galatasaray of Turkey and Italy’s Juventus, scheduled for next Tuesday in Istanbul, had been put back a week to December 2.
The Uefa Cup second round, second leg match between Israel’s Maccabi Haifa and Valencia of Spain, due to be played in Izmir next Thursday, has also been postponed with a new date and venue yet to be arranged.
“Uefa has decided to postpone the most imminent matches coming up in competitions in Turkey next week, given the seriousness of the incidents that took place in Istanbul this morning and the current confusion on the ground,” director of competition operations, Jacob Erel, said.
Meanwhile, in Milan, Juventus coach Marcello Lippi said the match with Galatasaray should be moved to a neutral venue and that the postponement was not enough.
“People in Istanbul are fleeing and we are going to play there' It has no sense,” said Lippi.
“The postponement decided by Uefa is right and I believe that the inclination is towards playing at a neutral ground.
The Uefa Cup tie, with Maccabi as the home team, was originally moved to Turkey because of security concerns in Israel. Suspected Islamist suicide car bombers killed at least 26 people and wounded hundreds in a strike against British targets.
Maccabi Haifa and Valencia both gave their full support to Uefa’s decision to postpone the tie.
The Israeli club issued a statement: “Maccabi Haifa feels the pain resulting from the tragic events in Istanbul this morning and Uefa’s decision (to postpone the match) was the obvious one under the circumstances. But, Turkey’s volatile fans will be the hardest hit by these postponements.
Valencia president Jaime Orti told his club’s website: “It is the best solution for both teams. It is the most logical solution given that security has to be the number one priority.
“Now we will be working on choosing the most suitable alternative date and venue for both Valencia and Maccabi.”
However, there was some confusion over new arrangements for the match. Haifa said it would be played on December 4 and could still take place in Izmir, while Valencia said it was likely to be on December 11 with Cyprus mooted as a possible venue.
Haifa clearly see the postponement as another chance to persuade Uefa that they be allowed to play in Israel.
“Because the announcement does not specify a venue for the match, we hope this opens the door to changing Uefa’s decision not to hold matches in Israel,” Haifa’s statement said.
The club’s spokesman Ofer Harel added: “Following the decision to postpone the match to December 4, we will ask Uefa to host it in Israel, although we will also look at Cyprus, Romania and England too,” Harel said.
Ukraine could be another option, Haifa said. Uefa said they would keep an eye on developments in Turkey in case they needed to make alterations to other fixtures like Chelsea’s Champions League visit to Besiktas scheduled for December 9 in Istanbul. (Reuters)