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Argentina’s national Soccer team reject BDS call to cancel friendly match with Israel

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Israeli media report that Argentina national football team will travel to Israel to play a friendly match despite mounting pressure from BDS activists.

The two times world champion has rejected calls by a coalition of human rights organizations to cancel the match on June 9 prior to the World Cup in Russia.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel had launched a campaign, including sending appeal letters to Argentine sports figures against the decision of the Argentina Football Association.

The letter from the Argentinean Committee of Solidarity with Palestine to the Argentinean National Secretary of Sports and the Argentine Football Association says that canceling the match “would represent the solidarity values of the Argentine people towards other people’s victims of oppression, apartheid and genocide.”

“Had it not been for the international position of boycotting sporting events and the South African economy, [Nelson] Mandela would have died in prison and South Africa might still be a racist apartheid state today,” the letter sent by the coalition says.

The boycott campaign is using the motto “Argentina don’t go” to Israel, or #ArgentinaNoVayas.

Argentina’s national sports television channel TyC Sports on Sunday announced that it would broadcast the match live, while Israeli event organizer Cometc also published details of the match on its website, meaning that the event is still scheduled and that BDS failed to marshal a boycott, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

Argentina national team featuring star players including Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Paris St Germaine’s Angel De Maria have huge fan base across the world. The team has been playing with Israel over the World Cup years including in 1986, 1990 and 1994 in which football legend Diego Maradona was also a part. Lionel Messi has recently joined an Israeli startup firm as its ambassador.

Anti-Israel activists campaign against the Jewish state’s attempts to get legitimacy for their Zionist ideology and occupation of Palestine through luring the popular icons and movements. Recently during his official visit to India the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Ntanyahu had several meetings and summits with India’s popular Bollywood film industry.

FT Staff writer

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