Argentina cancel test match in Israel
The Argentinian national team will not play its last international test match before the World Cup in Russia. The match against Israel scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled due to strong Palestinian protests, particularly against the relocation of Haifa to Jerusalem. Israel’s defense minister then voiced strong criticism.
The Argentinian national team’s hot preparations for the World Cup are not going according to plan. In the short term, the dress rehearsal of the Albiceleste in Israel was cancelled, according to the Israeli embassy in Argentina late Tuesday evening (local time). “Israel’s message regrets to announce the suspension of the match between Israel and Argentina,” it said in a statement referring to “threats and provocations” against five-time world footballer Lionel Messi and his team-mates.
What had happened? First, the Palestinian association president Djibril Radschub had asked Argentina’s superstar Lionel Messi not to take part in the test in Jerusalem. The official also called for Messis name to be burned when the barça professional was supposed to play.
The situation was exacerbated by a group of demonstrators showing blood-red Argentine national jerseys with loud protests outside the Vice World Champion’s training camp in Barcelona on Tuesday.
This agitation apparently led to the deletion of the game. “As far as I know, the players of the national team were not prepared to play the game,” Argentinian Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie had already said before the official cancellation.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried in vain on Tuesday evening to overturn the decision at the last second by calling Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri. The test game originally planned in Haifa was to be part of Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations.
However, the transfer to Jerusalem, which is claimed by Israel and Palestine alike as the capital, was criticised by the Palestinian Football Association as a political act. “In the end, it was the right decision. Health and common sense are paramount,” Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain said.