Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

Israel Angry over Argentina’s Cancellation of Football Match

Lionel Messi Lionel Messi
Lucia Summers | 08 June, 2018, 19:38

Buenos Aires: Argentina have called off a World Cup warm-up friendly against Israel following protests by pro-Palestinian groups.

The Palestinians celebrated the cancellation as a major triumph.

The encounter was called off on Tuesday after a campaign by the Palestinians following its relocation to Jerusalem.

He had also objected to having the match played in Jerusalem.

"This is a red flag and we'll have to see how it develops".

Israel has hosted the Eurovision contest twice before in Jerusalem, a city that most countries do not recognize as Israel's capital.

The cancellation was proceeded with BDS protests at the team's training site in Barcelona and calls from the Palestinian Football Association "to burn their Messi shirts and pictures and renounce him" if the match takes place.

In Iran's capital of Tehran, thousands joined a Jerusalem Day march on Friday, chanting "Death to Israel" and burning a Trump effigy.

The Argentine Football Association said that with the World Cup beginning on June 14, the squad needed to "focus on what is really important". "So I personally say, if the Eurovision won't be held in Jerusalem, it's not right to invest the NIS 50 million in public funds", she told the Israeli broadcaster Kan, stating that the Israeli capital is Jerusalem.

Rajoub laughed off Israeli threats of action, denying there was any intimidation. "To the people, the Government, and the football association of Argentina, we hereby send our sincerest apologies ... and re-state that [it] does not represent the Palestine Football Association, or the inclination of our people".

Argentina is one of the most popular national teams among Israelis.

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Netanyahu is now visiting Europe and his office could not immediately confirm the reports.

A source at Argentina's football federation on Tuesday confirmed the cancellation of the worldwide friendly scheduled to be played Saturday at Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem.

An opinion piece in the left-wing Haaretz newspaper said Regev had scored an "own goal" after "imposing politics on sports", and the centrist Yediot Aharonot featured a sick nine-year-old boy who broke out in tears when he learned he would not be accompanying Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi onto the pitch.

Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "It's unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters".

On Wednesday, Rajoub thanked the Argentines for "following their conscience". "Be accurate. During his preparations for the World Cup, Messi is not talking to the press", he said in a widely shared tweet late Wednesday.

In addition to his efforts to expel Israel from FIFA, Rajoub has a long record of anti-Israel rhetoric, including naming sporting tournaments in honor of terrorists, regularly comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and calling a football match between Israeli and Palestinian children "a crime against humanity".

Saturday's match was set to be played at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, which sits on the site of a Palestinian village.

The Palestinian Football Association opposed the game from the start, and blamed Regev for the move to Jerusalem and what they called the ensuing "disaster".

In recent weeks, at least 119 Gazans were killed by the Israeli military in protests linked to Jerusalem and marking 70 years since hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their land during the formation of Israel. Hoping for a less expensive settlement of the dispute, Tapai reportedly proposed staging two friendly matches in Israel on the condition that they would not be held in Jerusalem.

The Israel Football Association said that it would file a complaint to FIFA accusing its Palestinian counterpart of pressuring Argentinian players and staff into canceling the match, AFP reported.

Israel has not qualified for the tournament.

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