Argentina cancels pre-World Cup friendly against Israel in Jerusalem

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"Yesterday the decision was taken to not travel and play the friendly game against Israel", Tapia said in Wednesday's news conference in Barcelona, where the team is training.

Speaking on Wednesday, Miri Regev said the match was called off in the wake of "threats by terror elements sent to Messi and his family and to other players".

The press in Argentina and Israel reported that the Argentine Football Association was supposed to receive a payment of between two and three million dollars if Messi played.

The match, which was Argentina's final game before the Russia World Cup 2018, was set to be played on Saturday at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem al-Quds amid global anger over a decision by the USA to recognize the occupied Palestinian city as Israel's "capital". Thousands more are believed to have been injured during the incident.

Argentina's controversial 2018 FIFA World Cup warm-up fixture against Israel in Jerusalem has been cancelled, striker Gonzalo Higuain has confirmed. "It's now behind us, obviously our health and common sense comes first". The right thing was done, it's not worth it.

Argentina has called off a World Cup warmup match against Israel following protests by pro-Palestinian groups.

"Unfortunately we can not come to Israel in the current situation", said Claudio Tapia, president of the association, at a press conference in Barcelona where the national team has been training ahead of the start of the World Cup tournament in Russian Federation on June 14.

But Israel's defence minister said it was "too bad" Argentina's footballers did not "withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters".

But Israel says the campaign goes beyond Israeli occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians and masks a deeper aim of delegitimizing or even destroying the country.

Vice President of Israel Football Associations Rotem Kamer said, "We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president (Jibril Rajoub)", accusing them of "threatening football players (against) coming to Israel".

Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the global community views the city's eastern sector as an occupied territory and Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state.

Palestinians are outraged at US President Donald Trump's decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, breaking with decades of policy, and move his country's embassy there.

People in Gaza cheered and in Ramallah in the West Bank, the Palestinian FA issued a statement thanking Messi and his colleagues for cancelling the game. It has formed a government ministry whose primary mission is to combat the boycott movement.

The cancellation is just one more obstacle for Argentina, who were beaten finalists at the World Cup in Brazil four years ago. A petition cited "Israel's long record of human rights abuses, on and off the field", and also referenced the recent Israeli sniper shooting of Palestinian soccer player Mohammed Khalil while he was peacefully protesting during the March of Great Return.

"We give everything when we are wearing it and we want payback for the way things happened at the last World Cup".



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