Buenos Aires: Argentina has cancelled their final World Cup warm-up match with Israel, apparently under political pressure over Israel’s apartheid regime and inhuman treatment of Palestinians under military occupation.
Argentina’s Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain told the ESPN sports channel on Tuesday the game had been cancelled.
“They’ve finally done the right thing,” Higuain said in an interview.
The Israeli Embassy in Argentina tweeted to confirm that the football friendly between the two countries has been called off.
In an apparent nod to Palestinian protesters, Argentina’s National Football team has suspended a planned soccer match with Israel, according to Israeli and Argentinian media reports. https://t.co/hnY2iJ6GoU pic.twitter.com/1ZFfLyfUTh
— #FreePalestine 🇵🇸 (@Taghreeba) June 6, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been failed to convince Argentine President Mauricio Macri the significance of the decision of cancelling the match due to be played in Jerusalem on Saturday.
News of the cancellation was met with cheers in Gaza, where at least 120 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during recent protests in connection with the Great Return March. Israeli snipers shot dead Gaza paramedic Razan al-Najjar, 21 to create the situation worse.
Palestinian football association in Ramallah issued a statement thanking Argentina striker Lionel Messi and his colleagues for abandoning the idea of playing against the apartheid nation.
“The Palestinian FA thanks Argentina’s players led by star Messi for refusing to be used to serve a non-sporting goal.”
“Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game,” said Chairman Jibril Rajoub, quoted by Reuters news agency.
Mr Rajoub, had called on Palestinians to burn the jersey and pictures of Messi if the match took place amidst widespread international condemnation.
Rafael Araya Nasry, president of the Latin Confederation of Palestinian Institutions (COPLAC), said Messi and midfielder Javier Alejandro Mascherano personally insisted on canceling the friendly game. “We will never forget that. They are champions in humanity,” he tweeted. There are indications that the pressure to cancel the game came from coach Jorge Sampaoli as well.
The match, which was to be Argentina’s final game before the start of their World Cup campaign in Russia later this month, was set to be played at a stadium in West Jerusalem. But Israeli authorities contributed funding for it to be moved to Jerusalem, angering Palestinians further following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
🏅 Israel national football team coach Alon Hazan: “As an Israeli and a Jew, Jerusalem is far more important to me than Messi and Argentina. Messi is the greatest of his generation, but Jerusalem is forever.” https://t.co/iApvfwyRNr pic.twitter.com/4BoTsZaPfT
— Behind The News (@Behind__News) June 6, 2018
Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the Argentina national football team over the cancellation of a planned friendly against Israel in Jerusalem, calling it a surrender to hate.
“It’s a shame that Argentina’s footballing nobility did not withstand the pressure from Israeli-hating inciters,” he wrote on Twitter in the first response from an Israeli cabinet minister.