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Athletic Bilbao will not travel to Israel for Europa League tie

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia explained the decision: "In the end we decided to postpone the game because our safety could not be guaranteed."

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Urrutia: "No nos garantizaban la seguridad de los jugadores"
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Nika Cuenca | 21/11/2012

Athletic Bilbao will not play their Europa League match with Hapoel Kyriat in Haifa, Israel on Thursday after UEFA decided to postpone the game following a bomb attack on a bus in Tel Aviv.

At least 10 people have been injured in the attack, although newspaper 'Haaretz' estimates the number to be 21. Police have detained a suspect, which appears to dispel reports that it was a suicide attack. According to 'El País', the Israeli army announced on Wednesday morning that they had launched a further 100 strikes on the Gaza strip during the early hours of the morning.

Athletic Bilbao had planned to leave Bilbao at midday on Wednesday to fly to Tel Aviv and then drive to Haifa, but upon hearing the news, the club negotiated with UEFA from Bilbao airport in order to postpone the game and avoid travelling to a conflict zone.

The club had been trying for several days to move the game to a different country, without success. Three fans were due to travel directly with the team, while 25 fans had already made their own trip to Tel Aviv, via Brussels, before finding out the game had been postponed.

Club president Josu Urrutia explained why the decision had been taken:

"We have been speaking to the Spanish embassy in Tel Aviv and with UEFA in the last few days to find out what the situation was like out there and to see if our security would be guaranteed. Until today the situation seemed under control but everything has changed after the bomb. We got in contact with the embassy and UEFA again, and we were given an hour to make a decision. In the end we decided to postpone the game because our safety could not be guaranteed."

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