FIFA pledges help to rebuild Palestine Stadium in Gaza
SAO PAULO - FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke has pledged that football's world governing body will help rebuild the Palestine Stadium in Gaza City, after it was partially destroyed in Israeli air strikes.
"We see it our mandate to rebuild football infrastructure which has been destroyed," Valcke was quoted as saying on fifa.com. "We will also rebuild the stadium in Gaza, which has been destroyed.
"Football brings people together and we will support any re-construction necessary when football infrastructure is destroyed through disasters," added Valcke, who is in Brazil for the draw of the Confederations Cup.
Israeli fighter jets opened fire on the venue in the Gaza Strip earlier this month, severely damaging an indoor hall and a neighbouring building as well as leaving four large holes on the pitch.
Reports have estimated that the cost of the damage at the 10,000-seat stadium could run into millions of dollars.
The venue is one of three international stadiums used by the Palestine national football team, with a second the West Bank and a third in annexed east Jerusalem.
The Israeli military claimed that the stadium had been used for launching Fajr 5 rockets towards Israel's two major cities.
"The stadium's compound was used to launch rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv," a military spokeswoman said on Tuesday, referring to an Iranian-made rocket which has a range of up to 75 kilometres (46 miles).
FIFA, a non-political body that has previously supported football development projects in the Gaza Strip and West Bank as well as Israel, similarly pledged to rebuild the stadium after it was attacked in 2006.