Liverpool venue switch 'unfair', insist Israel PFA

August 9, 2006

Former Liverpool defender Avi Cohen has described UEFA's decision to play the second leg of the Reds' Champions League clash at a neutral venue as 'unfair' on opponents Maccabi Haifa.

Cohen spent two seasons at Anfield after moving from Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1979 before returning to Israel when he failed to establish himself in the first team.

Now he is president of the Israel Football Players' Association and he has described his disappointment at Maccabi Haifa being forced to renounce home advantage for the second leg because of the conflict in Lebanon.

Cohen instead insists the game could have been played in the capital Tel Aviv which he claims is untouched by the war.

Cohen told BBC Radio Five Live: 'The people who are not living in Israel do not understand Tel Aviv is out of the war.

'You do everything - you lie on the beach and go to discotheques. It is like living in London.

'It is very disappointing not to get Liverpool in Tel Aviv and (have) very big celebrations.

'It is unfair because they reduce the chances of Maccabi Haifa or any team in Israel to qualify. Liverpool are strong (at home) but away they are not so strong so they give Liverpool an advantage.'

The teams meet in the first leg at Anfield on Wednesday night and Cohen believes the Israelis are severely hampered by the disruption to their preparations because of the conflict.

'It's very, very difficult because Maccabi Haifa are from the north and they have the missiles on the houses and the streets and they didn't have a session in Haifa.

'Maccabi Haifa need to play at Anfield and they are trying to do the impossible thing to try to get a good result.

'There are a few players (that) if they weren't now playing at Anfield they should be in the army so you can imagine the thinking. How can their heads be in football?'