Sports

Argentina cancels football game with Israel, Palestinians welcome decision

Argentina cancels football game with Israel, Palestinians welcome decision

Argentina have cancelled their final World Cup warm-up match against Israel that had been scheduled for Saturday, federation officials and players said on Tuesday.

Jibril Rjoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), welcomed the decision which came after intense pressure by PFA with the help of other regional and global bodies.

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

"Since they announced they would play against Israel, various terror groups have been sending messages and letters to players on the Argentina national team and their relatives, including clear threats to hurt them and their families", she said.

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns to end global support for Israel's occupation of Palestine, said there is nothing friendly about the upcoming game.

Argentina, a major contender to win the World cup this summer, has made four previous pre-World Cup visits to Israel since 1986.

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

Wahed compared Israeli celebrating its 70th anniversary to people celebrating the British Falkland Islands (or the Islas Malvinas) off Argentina's coast.

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"The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem", he said, adding that Messi was "a symbol of peace and love".

Argentina are training for the World Cup in Barcelona. "We felt that it wasn't right to go".

"The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool".

In an interview with the ESPN sports channel, Argentinean striker Gonzalo Higuain confirmed the cancellation, saying, "They've finally done the right thing".

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Responding to the news, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said it welcomed Argentina's decision to cancel. Most countries do not recognise either Israel's or the Palestinians' sovereignty in Jerusalem and have embassies to Israel in the Tel Aviv area. Palestinians see the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and were angered by a decision to relocate the game there from Haifa. More than a hundred Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces during protests in Gaza in recent weeks to mark the Nakba, or catastrophe, of Israel's formation in 1948 and the USA relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


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