Argentina cancels World Cup warmup match in Israel

Cristian Pavón

Until now, the South Americans had been scheduled to contest a friendly with Israel in Jerusalem on Saturday as their final warm-up before the World Cup.

The vice president further added that the players' families were also being threatened.

The Argentina Football Association did not immediately comment on the reports.

A friendly football match between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem has been cancelled, according to Argentine media, a PLO spokesperson and an Argentinian striker.

The match is to be played at the Jerusalem Teddy Kollek Stadium in the neighborhood of Malha, a site that once hosted a Palestinian village that was destroyed during the 1948 war following the establishment of the state of Israel.

"It's unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defence and bring about the destruction of Israel", Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said of the cancellation. Thousands more are believed to have been injured during the incident. "I would like to thank them and appreciate their decision, which I think was on the right track".

Argentina's football team were praised by the campaign group Avaaz for making a "brave ethical decision".

"The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool".

Argentina take on Iceland in their first group stage match at Spartak Stadium on 16 June.

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

Argentina's worldwide friendly against Israel was cancelled because of threats against Albiceleste star Lionel Messi, says the Israeli sports minister.

The Argentine daily Clarín reported Argentine President Mauricio Macri examined the issue with the Argentine Football Association and learned that "the players don't want to play in Israel because of threats against Messi".

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement had initiated a campaign #NothingFriendly in this regard, saying "there is nothing "friendly" about military occupation and apartheid".

"Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game", said chairman Jibril Rajoub, quoted by Reuters news agency.

2014's FIFA World Cup runners up Argentina have one of the strongest front lines in the world.

The embassy opened on May 14, fanning Palestinian anger and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with Israeli forces killing dozens at least 61 Gazans that day.

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