Israel blames Palestinians for cancellation of Argentina friendly

Arnold Nichols
June 7, 2018

Argentina have cancelled their football friendly with Israel after protests by pro-Palestinian groups and claims of threats against star player Lionel Messi.

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Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain told ESPN confirmed reports the game had been cancelled following political pressure and said: "They've finally done the right thing". Let us know in the comments section below.

"Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised in Israel through the cancellation of the game", said chairman Jibril Rajoub, quoted by Reuters news agency.

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. However, Guatemala and Honduras followed the U.S. head in moving their embassies last month.

President Reuven Rivlin issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying, "The politicization in the Argentinian decision is of great concern".

The Palestinian FA also threatened to torpedo Argentina's bid to host the 2030 World Cup finals.

"We are seeing it as crossing a red line and we can not accept it", he said. Israel regards Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided" capital.

"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 unsafe message to the Israeli government that the world ignores its gross human rights violations". The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

The embassy opened on May 14, fanning Palestinian anger and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with Israeli forces killing dozens at least 61 Gazans that day.

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

Argentina's next match is now slated to be their World Cup Group D opener against Iceland on June 16, with Messi and his team-mates having only played one warm-up match - a 4-0 win over Haiti on May 30.

"Argentina is going to play on an occupied land of Palestine, so it should bear the diplomatic and sporting consequences; the occupying state has hundreds of stadiums but choosing one in the (Palestinian) village of al-Malha with Messi participating is a propaganda work to demonstrate Israeli right to Jerusalem".

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