Argentina Cancels World Cup Warm-up Match in Israel

The eternal argument of who is better Ronaldo or Messi has been given extra spice ahead of this summer's World Cup

The eternal argument of who is better Ronaldo or Messi has been given extra spice ahead of this summer's World Cup

The US shifted its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem in May on the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel in a move met with condemnation from the Palestinians.

"We welcome the decision by the Argentina team to cancel this "friendly" match", said Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

She said the Argentinians had not objected to that and that Messi had wanted to visit holy sites in Jerusalem.

Rajoub's gambit was another facet of the Palestinian Authority's escalating efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel in bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court-politicizing organizations that could theoretically serve a noble goal if they weren't so consumed with anti-Israel animus.

Vice President of Israel Football Associations Rotem Kamer said, "We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president (Jibril Rajoub)", accusing them of "threatening football players (against) coming to Israel".

He called it a victory for "ethics and values" of sports.

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The status of Jerusalem is highly sensitive.

Israel considers Jerusalem its "indivisible" capital. Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as their capital.

Speaking on Wednesday, he thanked the Argentinians for the cancellation, saying he hopes they will win the World Cup. "My delusions of grandeur and desire to take advantage of the event for my political needs brought this farce", Shmuly added.

Claudio Tapia, president of the AFA, apologised for cancelling the match but said the safety of the players was at stake.

Israeli Sports Minister Miri Regev, who pushed for the game to be moved from Haifa to Jerusalem, dismissed accusations that her demand had caused its cancellation and said Messi, his team mates and his family had been threatened by "terror elements".

Argentina's snubbing would appear to be the boycott movement's greatest achievement thus far. "Playing with an apartheid state is a form of complicity, magnified by Israel's recent horrific massacre in Gaza against unarmed protesters demanding their basic freedom, dignity, and UN-stipulated refugee right of return". "There is nothing friendly about Israel shooting Palestinian footballers", wrote another, casting a modicum of irony on the "friendly" aspect often ascribed to global fixtures.

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"At the current time in which the U.S. president and Israeli officials are trying to take Jerusalem off the negotiating table, it is important to see that people power can produce results", she said.

Israeli officials reacted bitterly to the cancellation of the game. He had called on Arabs to burn Lionel Messi pictures and Messi T-shirts if he played the match.

"The Israeli embassy is sad to announce the suspension of the match between the Israel and Argentina national teams scheduled for Saturday June 9, as a warm-up for the Russia World Cup", the statement reads.

"The Argentinian Football Association cancelled the agreement it signed with the Israelis because it reached the conclusion that this match is a political one".

"We also apologise to those that were going to take part in an event done for peace", he said.

Israeli media said that late Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with whom he has good relations, in an effort to save the match but that Macri had said he was unable to intervene.

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"I took this decision".

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