Palestinian threats push Argentina to cancel soccer game with Israel

Palestinian threats against Argentine star soccer player Lionel Messi resulted in the canceling of an exhibition game slated for Saturday in Jerusalem. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Argentina’s planned exhibition game against Israel’s national team slated for Saturday at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium has been canceled, the Israeli Embassy in Argentina announced Wednesday, citing unspecified “threats and provocations” against Lionel Messi.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri by telephone on Tuesday and asked him to intercede so that the friendly game between the Argentine and Israeli national teams could take place despite the threats.

However, according to sources quoted by the Argentine daily Clarin, Macri told Netanyahu that he had made an inquiry at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and that he was informed that the players decided not to play the game due to the threats against Messi, the team captain.

Macri offered “apologies” to Netanyahu, who was on an official visit to Argentina in 2017.

Gonzalo Higuaín, an Argentine player, was quoted ESPN as saying that the decision was a right one. He listed health concerns as one of the reasons for the cancelation.

The Argentine national team members said that coming to Israel to play would detract from their ability to prepare for the World Cup, which opens in nine days in Russia.

In recent days, pressure has been exerted on Messi and the AFA by BDS groups and Palestinians not to play in Jerusalem.