Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Argentina-Israel Soccer Game Canceled Over Playing in Jerusalem

Reports said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Argentinian President Mauricio Macri to ask him to persuade the team not to cancel their visit Messi and Argentina will not face Israel in Jerusalem friendly - match cancelled after protests
Ellis Copeland | 08 June, 2018, 17:54

"Unfortunately, we can not come to Israel in the current situation", Claudio Tapia, the president of the federation, said at a press conference in Barcelona, where the team has been training ahead of the World Cup.

Palestinian FA chief Jibril Rajoub speaks during a news conference, in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank June 6, 2018.

"The Netanyahu government is spitting in the face of the world and the worldwide community, both regarding the annexation of Jerusalem and its ongoing denial of the rights of the Palestinian people, and therefore it should not be awarded with a prize in the form of the Eurovision in Jerusalem", Jabareen told Tazpit Press Service.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen second leg football match between FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on March 14, 2018.

The cancellation was seen as a victory for the global Palestinian anti-Israel boycott campaign.

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

"Not that we needed it but it again showed how the management of Argentine football is a huge mafia", said Lorena Quiroga, a 40-year-old small business owner.

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.

The cancellation came hours after pro-Palestinian activists staged a demonstration in front of the sports complex in Barcelona where Argentina is preparing ahead of the World Cup. He has confirmed that the decision made due to issues surrounding the player's safety.

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The boycott movement welcomed the cancellation.

The movement said the Argentinian team had responded to "creative campaigning" denouncing what it called Israel's "sports-washing of its crimes against Palestinians". Shortly after the victory both Barzilai and Regev said the competition would be held in Jerusalem. But it wasn't about the location or politics, she said. He called on Arab soccer fans to burn Messi posters if the game went ahead.

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". "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", Regev told the public broadcaster.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli last week aired misgivings about having his players make the trip to Israel, noting he preferred to remain in Barcelona.

Ultimately, it was the players led by Messi, that compelled the Argentinean FA to back out of the commitment.

"[This was] nothing against the Israeli community, it is nothing against the Jewish community, rather the opposite, and I think and I would like that, from this moment, everyone considers my decision as a contribution to world peace", he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene.

Israel's Sports Ministry later claimed a "negotiation" about the match was underway, but gave no further details.

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