Israel roiled by the friendly snub to the World Cup in Argentina –

Israel roiled by the friendly snub to the World Cup in Argentina

JERUSALEM (AP) – The sport-maddened nation of Israel was furious at the abrupt cancellation of a World Cup preparation game following pro-Palestinian protests, and some leaders of the country accused Lionel Messi and his colleagues in speleology. to terrorism.

Israel eagerly awaited the friendly international full for Saturday night at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem and the arrival of some of the best players in the world. Argentina is one of the most popular national teams among the Israelis and the fans had been fighting for the opportunity to see Messi in person.

But after a fierce Palestinian campaign, which included images of Argentina's white-and-blue striped sweater dyed with red paint that resembles blood and threats of burning Messi's posters, the Argentine soccer federation announced that it was skipping the event.

"In the end, they have done the right thing, and this is behind us," Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain said. ESPN "Health and common sense come first, we felt it was not right to go."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene, without success. 19659006] & # 39; It is regrettable that the Argentine soccer knights did not resist the pressure of the inciteers who hate Israel, whose only objective is to damage our basic right to self-defense and provoke the destruction of Israel & # # 39; & # 39; said Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "We will not surrender to a group of supporters of anti-Semitic terrorism",

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said it was a sad morning for sports fans Israelis, including their own grandchildren. & # 39; But there are values ​​that are greater than even Messi. The politicization of the Argentine movement worries me a lot, "he said.

Opposition figures, however, accused the Israeli sports minister of provoking the politicization of the sporting event by insisting on moving the game from Haifa to disputed Jerusalem. and when trying to organize a politicized photo-op with Lionel Messi. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. Israel considers that the entire city is its capital, while the Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog called the snub as a "spectacular own goal" by Regev who handed the victory to the boycotters of the Jewish state. Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay called for a police investigation into the & # 39; & # 39; corrupt behavior & # 39; & # 39; of Regev.

& # 39; & # 39; We just absorbed a shot in the face. This is not just sport, "he tweeted." This, unfortunately, could start an international tsunami. "

Regev responded that terrorist groups had threatened Argentine players and their families, sending them images of dead children. the members of the Israeli parliament, in the Knesset, to support the defenders of the boycott.

& # 39; & # 39; Unfortunately, we have Trojan Horses in the Knesset that are opposed to terrorism & # 39; & # 39; he said.

Israel has defended the boycott campaign, with only a small number of artists and organizations shying away from the country.The rejection of Argentina would seem to be the biggest achievement of the boycott movement so far.

The popular movement He advocates boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel in what supporters say is a way to promote Palestinian rights through non-violent means Israel says the campaign goes beyond occupation Raelí of the lands claimed by the Palestinians and masks a deeper goal to delegitimize or even destroy the country. It has formed a government ministry whose main mission is to combat the boycott movement.

The Palestinians celebrated the cancellation as a great triumph.

The head of the Palestinian football badociation, Jibril Rajoub, summoned the fans of Arab football to burning posters of Messi if he participated. For a long time, he has been trying to impose sanctions against Israel on the part of the world football body, FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.

The Israeli organizers said that an offer had been submitted for the game to be played in Barcelona, ​​but it was very unlikely.

"I think sports should never be related to politics," said Shahaf Ashraga, a fan in Jerusalem. "It is sad to think that the game should be canceled due to Palestinian pressure"

Argentina opens its Group D campaign in Russia against Iceland on June 16. He then plays against Croatia on June 21 and Nigeria on June 26. It is not clear if Argentina will carry out another warm-up or if it will arrive in Moscow sooner than expected.

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