BALE

Bale celebrating his goal during the leg in Israel

Jewish groups have planned a counter-protest to pro-Palestinian protesters who want to “show Israel the red card” ahead of the country’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday.

The Zionist Federation, North-West Friends of Israel and Sussex Friends of Israel have organised buses to ferry ticket-holders to a pro-Israel rally outside the stadium, ahead of the match, which kicks off at 5pm.

Protesters from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) have likewise organised groups from London, Liverpool, Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and the West Midlands.

A statement from Stop the War coalition said: “Israel uses sport as a way to present itself as a ‘normal’ European state, to whitewash its racism against the Palestinians, just as South Africa did under apartheid.”

But Arieh Miller, ZF Director, said: “We plan to show the true face of Israel: the most diverse team and country in the Middle East. It is important to make all Israelis, team members and fans alike, feel welcome in Cardiff and Wales.”

Several hundred tickets in the ‘away’ section of the stadium were given to Israeli Football Association to sell to Israel supporters. All these tickets were given to an Israeli promotional company, which distributed them.

Ahead of the game, a photographic exhibition opened in the Central Library in the Welsh capital. Sponsored by the Israeli Embassy, it shows Jewish-Arab diversity and coexistence through football, in dusty towns and villages throughout the country. The theme continues on the pitch: Arabs, Muslims and Bedouin play in the Israeli football team.