Kosovo soccer fans boo as Israel’s national anthem plays during match against Israeli team

The match was originally scheduled for Oct. 15 but was postponed due to the war.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

Some soccer fans inside Fadil Vokrri Stadium in Pristina, Kosovo booed and whistled as Israel’s national anthem Hatikvah was being played before Israel’s national soccer team kicked off its European Championship qualifying match against Kosovo on Sunday.

Videos circulating on social media showed the scene taking place as the Israeli athletes lined up on the field to hear the national anthem. The players also paid tribute to the roughly 240 hostages taken by Hamas terrorists during their Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel by miming the symbol of half a heart, showing that the heart won’t be whole until the hostages return to their families.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) told CNN that “proceedings have been opened for disturbances during the national anthems” and that the “UEFA Control, Ethics, and Disciplinary Body will deal with this case in due course.”

The Israeli national soccer team lost 1-0 to Kosovo on Sunday in its first game since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Romania and Switzerland have already qualified for the 2024 European Championship, which will take place in Germany.

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Sunday’s game was the first of four soccer matches in 10 days that Israel will play to determine whether it qualifies for the first time ever for the European championship. The match was originally scheduled for Oct. 15 but was postponed due to the war. Israel is set to play Switzerland on Wednesday at the Pancho Aréna in Hungary.

“Our country is more important than football,” Alon Hazan, coach of the Israeli national soccer team, told reporters after Sunday’s match. “We cannot separate the war from us. But we have to play football and we want to represent our country very well.”

“The chances [of reaching the European Championship finals] still exist,” he added. “We are looking forward to the game against the Swiss; it will be very difficult. And we’ll see what is the situation with the condition of the players.”