After Protests Argentina Cancels Soccer Game With Israel
The Argentina soccer team has canceled an international friendly soccer game which they were set to play with Israel this coming Saturday in Jerusalem following pressure from Palestinian rights activists.
The two sides were set to play at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem and would have been Argentina’s final preparation team before they set off for Russia to play in the World Cup.
The game was first scheduled to take place in the Israeli city of Haifa, but CNN reported an official involved in promoting the match told CNN the Israeli government made clear it wanted the game to take place in Jerusalem. Moving the game to Jerusalem was seen as a political move and statement by Palestinian supporters to lay claim to the contested city.
As a result, intense pressure arose urging Argentina to pull out from the match during recent days. Last Sunday, the Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub started a campaign to pressure Argentina soccer superstar Lionel Messi to pull out of the match.
Messi is regarded as one of the best soccer players of all-time and is very popular in the Arab World as well as within the Gaza strip. Rajoub encouraged Messi as well as the rest of the Argentinian team to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and warned that their shirts would have been burned if they played in the game.
Argentinian soccer officials have since said that their players have faced death threats and there were protests which took place outside Argentina’s training camp in Barcelona, Spain due to the game.
Vice-President of the Argentinian Soccer Association, Hugo Moyano said: “I think it’s a good thing that the match between Argentina and Israel was suspended. The right thing was done, it’s not worth it. The stuff that happens in those places, where they kill so many people, as a human being you can’t accept that in any way. The players’ families were suffering due to the threats.”
Jerusalem has gained worldwide media attention during recent months due to the controversy surrounding whether it is Palestinian or Israeli land. While much of the international community considers it to be the capital of Palestine, Israel has made efforts to have Jerusalem increasingly recognized as Israeli territory. The United States was just recently widely criticized for moving their embassy to the city.