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By ESPN Staff
Apr 11, 2006

FIFA to pay to repair field damaged in bombing

ZURICH, Switzerland -- FIFA will pay to repair a soccer field in the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip that was damaged during a bombing this month.

Soccer's governing body said Tuesday it will confer with Palestinian soccer officials in next few days on the extent of the damage to the stadium and stands.

"Football is one of the very few universal tools mankind can use to bridge gaps between nations and peoples, and to symbolize what unites our planet over what divides it," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.

No casualties were reported in the April 1 airstrike, which reportedly left a large crater in the field. The Israeli military said the airstrike was part of an effort to deter possible attacks after an increase in rocket launches from Gaza.

FIFA said strike was made "without any reason" and the field was not being used by Palestinians as a missile launching pad, as Israel's ambassador to Switzerland originally claimed.

FIFA stressed it equally supported Palestinian and Israeli soccer. European soccer authorities banned Israeli clubs and the national team from international competitions at home between October 2001 and April 2004 because of terrorist attacks. FIFA ensured that Tel Aviv hosted the Israeli national team's qualifying games for the 2006 World Cup.