Messi-led Argentina cancels friendly match with Israel after outcry

Posted June 06, 2018

Argentina's upcoming friendly with Israel in Jerusalem has been cancelled, the Israeli embassy confirmed here Tuesday, citing threats against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Argentina planned to hold its final exhibition match ahead of the 2018 World Cup on Saturday against Israel in Jerusalem.

The match was originally slated to be played in Haifa but Israeli authorities contributed funding for it to be moved to Jerusalem, angering Palestinians further following U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of the city as Israel's capital.

"The Embassy of Israel regrets to communicate the suspension of the match between Israel and Argentina", a statement said, referring to "threats and provocations" against Messi.

Calling the Argentinian decision to play in Israel "handing oneself over to politics" Rajoub claimed the Israeli government desires that "Palestinian children will see their heros play [soccer] over the graves of their fathers".

"This match has become a political tool", Rajoub said in Arabic.

The 30-year old forward is gearing up for another World Cup run with Argentina, where they're in a group with Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria.

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Noblesville West Middle School Principal Stacey Swan and superintendent Beth Niedermeyer were also slated to be in attendance. The middle school was scheduled to remain closed Tuesday to provide counseling for students, staff and their families.

The cancellation of the game is being viewed as a major victory for BDS, which seeks equal rights for Palestinians.

Argentine media also reported the cancellation.

"But that's the way it is, we have to travel on the day before the match, play Israel in Israel and then from there go on to Russian Federation".

On Sunday he called for Palestinians to burn replica shirts and pictures of Messi.

"I stressed that the game, in the wake of the killing of the Palestinians in Gaza and the relocation of the USA. embassy to Jerusalem, sends a risky message to the Israeli government that the world ignores its gross human rights violations".

Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the global community views the city's eastern sector as an occupied territory and Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state. The Jewish state considers the entire city its own "indivisible" capital. On Tuesday, a group of Catalan pro-Palestinian protesters called out the names of the players and asked them not to participate in the "cover-up" of a social conflict.

"For us it is unacceptable to hold this game in Jerusalem because it is occupied territory, and it is painful to see that the team, which has the love and support of so many Palestinians and Arab citizens, support the violation of worldwide law", he said.

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