Thursday, May 26th | 25 Iyyar 5782

June 3, 2013 12:38 am

Netanyahu Meets with Israeli Under-21 Soccer Team Before UEFA Tournament

avatar by Max Elstein Keisler

The UEFA logo. Photo: Wikimedia commons.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had some encouraging words for the country’s under-21 national soccer team Sunday, ahead of the UEFA under-21 tournament that begins Wednesday. Israel is hosting the tournament, and competing in the opening round against Norway.

Speaking to the team, Netanyahu described his own love for the sport, saying: “I watch football and sometimes play and this has a price at my age. It is pure enjoyment and a great love.”

Netanyahu also noted the political significance of the tournament: “The achievement of the tournament is that it is happening in the State of Israel. I am pleased by UEFA President Michel Platini’s strong stand that the tournament take place here.”

Israel’s hosting the tournament was not without controversy.  Soccer players from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, and China (who did not qualify), as well as some players on western teams, signed a petition calling for UEFA to host the tournament elsewhere.

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