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Why does F.C. Hapoel Tel Aviv play in UEFA Europa League since Israel is not in Europe?

  • Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are also in UEFA despite being mostly in Asia. The old Soviet Union was one of the founders of UEFA. Incidentally, Kazakhstan was temporarily in the AFC until deciding to rejoin UEFA in 2000, so there's clearly some wiggle room. – Colin Pickard Oct 2 '14 at 11:30
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    Note that Israel also participates in the Eurovision Song Contest. – David Richerby Oct 2 '14 at 20:02
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Israel is not in Europe but is a member of UEFA for political reasons (From Wikipedia):

Israel competed in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) between 1954 and 1974. Due to the Arab–Israeli conflict, several Muslim states refused to compete against Israel. The political situation culminated in Israel winning the 1958 World Cup qualifying stage for Asia and Africa without playing a single game, forcing FIFA to schedule a playoff between Israel and Wales to ensure the team did not qualify without playing at least one game (which Wales won).

In 1974, Israel was excluded from AFC competitions, as a result of a proposal by Kuwait which was adopted by a vote of 17 to 13 with 6 abstentions. ....

In 1991, Israeli clubs began participating in European club competitions, and Israel returned to the European leg of World Cup qualifying in 1992. In 1994, Israel received full UEFA membership, 20 years after it had left Asia.

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