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Israel among 5 countries chosen to host Euro 2013
Soccer / Israel among five finalists to host Euro U-21 in 2013
Israel Football Association chief promised UEFA officials that by 2013, Israel would be able to boast three brand new stadiums - in Haifa, Netanya and Petah Tikva.
Israel is among five nations being considered to host the 2013 UEFA Under-21 European Championship. None of the short-listed countries - the others are England, Wales, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic - have ever hosted the competition.
Avi Luzon, chief of the Israel Football Association and a member of the UEFA Executive Committee, has launched a campaign to convince fellow members of European soccer's governing body that Israel can provide the necessary infrastructure to support a competition this wide in scope.
Luzon promised UEFA officials that by 2013, the country would be able to boast three brand new stadiums - in Haifa, Netanya and Petah Tikva - that along with the existing Bloomfield and Ramat Gan stadiums will meet the organization's criteria for hosting the biennial tournament.
Tomorrow UEFA officials will hold a briefing session with their IFA counterparts as well as Israeli Premier League club owners and chairmen to discuss details regarding Israel's bid.
Seven national teams will advance to the event's group stage, along with the host, which advances automatically. Should the competition ultimately be assigned to Israel, it will be the first time the country's U-21 team has been represented in the finals since 2007. Israel also lodged a request to host the 2011 Under-21 Championships, a bid that ultimately went to Denmark.
The Executive Committee's announcement of the winning candidacy has been pushed back from next month to January. Should Israel's candidacy fail, the team will still participate in the February draw for the tournament's qualifying stage.
"We're doing everything we can to win," Luzon told the sports website ONE yesterday, but noted that "last time we got to the final round as well, and it went to Denmark."
UEFA bylaws stipulate that players have to be 21 or under when the qualifying process begins. In practice, players are often as old as 23 by the time the tournament takes place. Germany is the reigning champion, having defeated two-time winner England in the 2009 final, 4-0. Italy has won the event five times (all of them since 1992 ), while Spain, the Soviet Union and the Netherlands have all won twice. France, the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia are the only other nations to have claimed the title in its over three decades of existence.