Brussels refuses to host upcoming Belgium-Israel soccer match

The city of Brussels, Belgium, declined to host a UEFA Nations League match between Belgium and Israel in September, citing security risks as a reason.

Because of the „dramatic situation in Gaza” that creates a security headache for city officials, Brussels’ first alderman Benoit Hellings said on Wednesday that the city considers it impossible to organise the match, which was scheduled to take place at the Stade Roi Baudouin on September 6, reports The Times of Israel.

The ticket sales for the Belgium-Israel match were already paused last month due to security concerns. Since October 7, anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators have taken to the streets of Brussels.

Hellings said the decision came after Brussels officials thoroughly discussed the possibility of hosting the match with the federal government, police forces and the Belgian soccer federation (URBSFA).

„Today, it is clear that the announcement of such a match being held in our capital will undoubtedly provoke major (counter-) demonstrations, compromising the safety of spectators, players, residents and our police forces alike,” he said in a statement.

Israeli teams with international games that would ordinarily have been played in the Jewish state have sought locations abroad during the war. The Brussels setback came as the city of Lodz in Poland on Monday said it would not host games for Israeli team Maccabi Haifa for its matches in the third-tier UEFA Europa Conference League, also citing security concerns.

Meanwhile, FIFA, the world soccer governing body, is grappling with a Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel from international soccer.

Action and Protection League Foreign Affairs Director Tamir Wertzberger strongly condemned the Belgian decision to refuse the hosting of the match: „Instead of protecting Jews, Belgium prefers to keep the Jews outside. This decision is a victory for terror and for antisemitism, a victory for those who are wishing to keep Israel and the Jews behind a social ghetto. We call on the Belgian government to intervene immediately and to make sure that Jews and Israelis can practice safely their cultural life and attend sports and cultural events like any other nation. „


Photo credit: Denes Erdos/AP