Argentina Drops Friendly With Israel Amid 'Threats' to Messi, 'Provocations'


Argentina's upcoming friendly with Israel in Jerusalem has been cancelled, the Israeli embassy confirmed here Tuesday, citing threats against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

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

The match was originally slated to be played in Haifa but Israeli authorities contributed funding for it to be moved to Jerusalem, angering Palestinians further following U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of the city as Israel's capital.

Reports also surfaced earlier Tuesday of a Palestinian threat to torpedo Argentina's bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

"From a sporting point of view, I would have preferred to play in Barcelona", Sampaoli said. "As was widely covered in Argentinian media, the match now is being played in order to celebrate the "70th anniversary of the State of Israel", Palestine soccer chief Jibril Rajoub wrote to Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentinian Soccer Association, according to Reuters.

Rajoub had accused Israel of using the match as a political tool and now the clash has been cancelled. "This is a Palestinian victory one nil at the 90'th minute", said Join List MK Ahmad Tibi, "all due to a self-goal from [Culture] Minister Miri Regev". "The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem", Rajoub said.

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The ambassador of Palestine in Argentina, Husni Abdel Wahed, had expressed his opposition to the friendly.

"I stressed that the game, in the wake of the killing of the Palestinians in Gaza and the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, sends a unsafe message to the Israeli government that the world ignores its gross human rights violations".

The game would have come shortly after multiple protests and violence in Jerusalem after United States President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to the capital - which is claimed by both Israel and Palestine. "We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation".

As part of the campaign, Mohammed Khalil, a Palestinian footballer, directed a message toward Argentina's beloved forward Lionel Messi.

"I don't consider myself the best, I think I am just another player.On the field, we are all the same when the game begins", Messi said.