MLA Hopes For 'Friendly' Israeli Match

There are fears of disruption at this week's international soccer match at Windsor Park.

While the Northern Ireland soccer team boss Nigel Worthington believes Wednesday's friendly against Israel is "perfect preparation for upcoming World Cup qualifiers", a local MLA is worried about the sporting challenge becoming a political rally point.

Robin Newton, the East Belfast DUP MLA (pictured) has said the international football match between Northern Ireland and Israel at Windsor Park should be exactly as it is described - a 'friendly' football match.

Fearing anti-Israeli protests he said: "Those who would want to use the fixture for political protest reasons should catch themselves on and stay away from the ground.

"This is a sporting challenge between two small footballing nations with the opportunity for both teams and all supporters to enjoy the event.

"It will be competitive on the pitch but I have no doubts played in a sportsman like spirit," he said.
News Image
"This is another opportunity for 'our wee country' to show the footballing world a good image and the type of positive support for which we are gaining an international reputation," said the Stormont Junior Minister.

However, there was considerable trouble at a previous match - against Poland - when away fans rioted with police trying to keep the peace between rival fans.

On the pitch, Northern Ireland will go into the fixture second in their qualifying group, two points behind pacesetters Slovakia and three clear of third-placed Poland.

"We've got a good, hard match against Israel, which we wanted ahead of the Poland and Slovakia games," said Nigel Worthington.

"It's a chance to get the spirit going again and get the work ethic we are looking for.

"After a three-month break, to come together three weeks ahead of two crucial games is very important - it's about getting refocused on international football," said the NI Manager.

Poland are first up in a crucial double-header with the clash in Chorzow on 5 September followed by a Belfast battle with Slovakia four days later.

The campaign ends with a trip to face the Czech Republic on 14 October.

See: Policing Soccer Violence Cost Over £100K


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 February 2018
Northern Ireland To Play Israel At Windsor Park
Northern Ireland are to play against Israel in a friendly international on Tuesday, 11 September. The match will take place at Windsor Park at 7.45pm. The game comes three days after Northern Ireland play Bosnia and Herzegovina in the UEFA Nations League at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
06 February 2019
Brexit: PM's Pledge To Avoid A Hard Border
Prime Minister Theresa May has visited Belfast to offer assurances over her Brexit strategy and reiterate her "unshakeable" commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland. "The UK Government will not let that happen. I will not let that happen," the Conservative leader told an audience in the city on the afternoon of Tuesday 05 February.
02 August 2018
Knives And Knuckledusters Seized At Belfast International Airport
Weapons including knives, a stun gun and knuckledusters have been seized by officials at Belfast International Airport. The majority of the items had been brought in by passengers returning from holidays from Bulgaria, Poland and the US.
12 February 2019
Women Targeted In Romance Scam Lose £105K
A senior PSNI officer has warned people looking for love online to be on the alert for fraudsters, after two women from Northern Ireland were scammed out of a total of £105,000 in a romance ploy ahead of Valentine's Day.
01 February 2019
NI's Pro-Remain Parties Unite To Support Backstop
Northern Ireland's remain-supporting political parties, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party, have issued a joint statement detailing the need to bank the backstop. It comes in the wake of Parliament's support for the Brady amendment that calls for the planned Irish backstop to be replaced by "alternative arrangements".