Argentina’s last friendly with Israel to the build up to the FIFA World Cup kicking off this month has been cancelled after Palestinians protested with Argentinian authorities over the game to take place in Jerusalem whose status has been a bone of contention between Israel and Palestine.
Argentinian authorities have renounced playing against Israel, which was to host Lionel Messi-led national team’s last warm up for the world cup. Palestinians have carried out a massive campaign against the match.
Head of the Palestinians Football Association Jibril Rajoub told Times of Israel they rallied against the match because Israeli authorities wanted to politicize it following their decision to move the match from Haifa to Jerusalem.
“If the game between Argentina and Israel had been held in Haifa as originally planned, we wouldn’t have opposed it at all,” Jibril Rajoub told the paper.
“If the game had stayed in Haifa, we, as Palestinians, would have opposed anyone trying to hinder it,” he said. “But your government decided to make it political.”
Palestinians argued that Israel wants to use the game and the Argentinian and Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi to score international points following the controversial transfer of US embassy to the old city last month.
The Israeli government, Times of Israel notes, tried to salvage the match but Argentinian authorities, led by President Mauricio Macri, indicated there were no chances. Macri reportedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the issue was out of his hands.
The Argentine players who are currently in Spain reportedly received threats for the match.
“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,” said Argentina soccer federation vice president Hugo Moyano.
The cancelation appears as a big win for the Palestinians. They failed last month to campaign against Israel’s hosting sections of the Giro d’Italia 2018 cycling competition.