The scheduled match vs Israel football team was Argentina football team's last warm-up ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Argentina football team has cancelled its FIFA World Cup warm-up match against Israel, even as political pressure grew ahead of the fixture that was scheduled to be played in Jerusalem on Saturday (June 9).
Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain was quoted by ESPN that the game had been cancelled. “They've finally done the right thing,” said the striker who plays for Juventus.
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Media reports, meanwhile, said Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made a last-ditch attempt to salvage the match by calling Argentina president Mauricio Macri.
Even as the last-minute attempt at football diplomacy failed, celebrations erupted in Gaza, a conflict zone where at least 120 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during protests recently.
There is no official statement from the Israel Football Association about the cancellation which would have been Argentina’s final match ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Football Association celebrated the Argentine decision and thanked Lionel Messi and Co. for the cancellation.
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“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, who, on Sunday, had called for Palestinians to burn replica shirts and images of Lionel Messi.
The match was scheduled to be held at a stadium in west Jerusalem. The originally venue for the match was in Haifa but Israel moved it to the city. The timing of the match was always suspect. The Palestinians are keen to have the eastern part of the ever-sensitive Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that will have the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank as part of it.
With US president Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, things were always on the boil. And, the shift of the match from Haifa to Jerusalem irked the Palestinians further.
Argentina, who are struggling to set things right ahead of the World Cup, face Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in what is considered to be one of the hardest groups of Russia 2018.
(With inputs from IANS)