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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Benitez furious about Israel trip
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez
Benitez wants the the second leg played away from Israel
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is angry about the prospect of his side being forced to travel to Israel during the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

The Reds have been drawn against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League third qualifying round, with the second leg in Haifa on 22 or 23 August.

"It's a crazy situation and totally unacceptable to think about us going over there," he told the club website.

"There is no way we should be going to Israel to play at this time."

Benitez added: "The situation is very clear in my mind. I feel sad for the people over there at the moment because it's a terrible time for them.

"But we have to put the security and safety of everyone involved before anything else and that means we cannot travel there. It would be impossible to concentrate on the game.

We would love the match to be in Haifa

Haifa president Jacob Schachar

"Uefa (European football's governing body) need to make a decision quickly because there will be lots of our supporters wanting to know what is happening."

Liverpool are set to make an official representation to Uefa about the situation and ask for the game to be moved to a neutral country.

Uefa official Rob Faulkner has already admitted the match could be moved away from Israel.

"We all see the news and have serious concerns - and the situation is changing daily. But this is the right way to do it and we're asking the right people," he said.

"We'll be in discussions with both clubs but the key is the safety of players, fans and officials - and we wouldn't go ahead if we didn't have those assurances.

"We have played with problems and conflict there before and also played games away from Israel. That is Plan B - a back-up plan."

Haifa president Jacob Schachar also moved to reassure worried fans.

"There are many Liverpool fans in Israel and I hope the match can go ahead," he said.

"We would love the match to be in Haifa but it could go ahead in Tel Aviv which is quiet."

But Les Lawson, of the Liverpool International Supporters' Club, added: "Surely common sense should prevail. I have heard a Haifa official saying the game can be played in Tel Aviv where everything is quiet.

"But that's nonsense. Security cannot be ensured anywhere in Israel.

"This is a dangerous, volatile situation in Israel and safety for everyone, the team, the officials, fans, referee everybody, should be the main consideration.

"Uefa have known this situation was coming. They have known about the war there for a few weeks now and they knew Haifa were in the draw. They should already have said Haifa's home leg has to be played in a neutral country."



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