Sports

Messi’s Argentina Cancels Football Friendly Match With Israel Over Palestinian’s Crisis

Argentina’s national football team has cancelled an upcoming friendly match with Israel, Argentine news sources reported.

Argentinian sports website Minutouno reported on Tuesday that Saturday’s game in Jerusalem had been “suspended” amid an “escalation of violence, threats and criticism” directed at captain ‘Leo’ Messi.

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

The fixture between the two teams was set to be played in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on June 9, which is built on land that was once a Palestinian village that was destroyed in 1948.

Israeli media reported that in light of this latest development, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak to his Argentinian counterpart Mauricio Macri by telephone.

The ambassador of Palestine in Argentina, Husni Abdel Wahed, had expressed his opposition to the friendly.

“This match would be similar to us celebrating … the occupation of Malvinas,” he told Radio Cooperativa on Tuesday, referring to the Falkland Islands.

Abdel Wahed went on to say that the match was part of the celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary since its establishment in 1948, after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their villages and lands by Zionist paramilitaries.

“For us, it is unacceptable to hold this game in Jerusalem because it is occupied territory, and it is painful to see that the team, which has the love and support of so many Palestinians and Arab citizens, support the violation of international law,” he said.