Argentina Soccer Game Cancelled Over Terror, Not Boycott — Israeli Sports Minister

Israel cancel World Cup warm-up friendly with Argentina citing threats against Lionel Messi

Argentina Soccer Game Cancelled Over Terror, Not Boycott — Israeli Sports Minister

He accused them of threatening players and their families, without providing any evidence.

From the outset, the venue of the match became a political football.

"It's not Jerusalem or Haifa", Regev said at the same press conference.

Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev had pushed for the game to be moved from Haifa to Jerusalem, which was seen as a contentious move following the recent controversy surrounding the city with President Donald Trump's declaration recognizing it as Israel's capital and the subsequent opening of the US embassy there.

"We believe that sports are based on a language of peace and brotherhood and is a tool for bridging gaps between one another, rather than harming one another, especially when it comes to parties that have political rivalries", the ambassador said. They chose Haifa. But Regev wasn't about to relent and reluctantly the Argentinean FA, presumably tempted by a higher payment, agreed to Jerusalem.

The friendly soccer match between Argentina's and Israel's national soccer teams scheduled in Jerusalem was cancelled, after Argentine players received greater threats than those previously made by ISIS, the Argentine Foreign Minister said during an interview with Radio Mitre, La Agencia Judia de Noticias reported Wednesday (Spanish link). He had several times put his protest on record, not for any political or even security objections but simply for professional concerns that it would be too big a distraction for the players so close to the World Cup finals in Russian Federation the following week.

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Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, considered close to Netanyahu, expressed ire at Argentina with its front-page headline: "They surrendered to terrorism: The game against Argentina has been cancelled". It is hard to know how honest he is on this point, or whether he is just stirring up division in Israel by blaming Regev.

Regev seems to have no regrets.

In the wake of the scandal, Regev also fueled debates around another major global event, which Israel is to host next year: the Eurovision song contest.

The Israel Football Association (IFA) has filed a compaint against the Palestianian FA (PFA) and its president after Argentina canceled a scheduled friendly in Jerusalem under pressure from Palestinian protesters.

Meanwhile, the Eurovision organizers have been insisting that next year's event is not politicized otherwise it may be moved to another country. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, while the Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

According to the Isreali narrative, Argentine players did not refuse to play in response to Israel's murder of over 120 Palestinians demonstrators in Gaza, or in response to what human rights groups call a shoot-to-kill-or-maim-policy. No. In contrast, Israel has always considered compromise and pragmatically taken what was on offer. The shirt was accompanied with a message "Argentina don't go".

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