The French Champions Trophy, the traditional curtain-raiser to the football season in the country, will be played this year in Israel, it was announced on Thursday.
The one-off match between the Ligue 1 champions and the winners of the French Cup will take place at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv on Sunday, August 1, the French league (LFP) said.
It is a return to foreign soil for a match that was held outside France every year between 2009 and 2019, taking place three times in China and also being staged in Canada, Tunisia, Morocco, the United States, Gabon and Austria.
This season’s game, won by Paris Saint-Germain against Marseille, was held in France, in Lens, in January having been postponed at the start of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
LFP director general Mathieu Ficot said taking the game to Israel “reinforces our desire to promote French football in a region that is key for its development”.
Significantly, Israel has also raced ahead of the rest of the world with its Covid vaccination programme, raising the prospect of the game going ahead before a sizeable crowd.
— Ligue1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) March 10, 2021
At the start of this week the country had given the two recommended doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to roughly 40 percent of its nine-million strong population.
Restaurants, bars and cafes have re-opened to vaccinated “green pass” holders.