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

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

Argentina's national football team has cancelled an upcoming friendly match with Israel, Argentine news sources reported.

The match, South Americans' final warm up game before the World Cup in Russian Federation next week, was scheduled to be played in Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium on June 9, was highly anticipated in Israel with tickets selling out in 20 minutes.

Following the cancellation of the Argentina-Israel soccer friendly, the Palestinian Football Association thanked Messi and his teammates for their decision.

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

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

"From a sporting point of view, I would have preferred to play in Barcelona", Sampaoli said.

"This proves Argentina understands there is nothing friendly about playing in Jerusalem, when just miles away Israelis snipers are shooting unarmed protesters", said Alice Jay, campaign director at Avaaz.

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Rajoub had accused Israel of using the match as a political tool and now the clash has been cancelled. "Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game". Jorge Faurie did not confirm the game had been axed, but told reporters in Washington on the sidelines of the Organization of American States meeting that he believed players had been reluctant to travel to Israel to play.

The cancellation came hours after pro-Palestinian activists staged a demonstration in front of the sports complex in Barcelona where Argentina is preparing ahead of the World Cup.

Rajoub has long urged FIFA to expel Israel from the global football federation, citing Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian soccer players and because Israel maintains teams in West Bank settlements. "The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem", Rajoub said.

The game was originally scheduled to be played in Haifa but Israeli authorities later arranged it to be moved to Jerusalem, thus adding to Palestinians' anger and frustration over last month's opening of the US Embassy in the city part of which they claim as their own capital.

On Sunday he called for Palestinians to burn replica shirts and pictures of Messi.

"We ask him to be participate in the legitimisation of the criminal occupation".

"Messi is a symbol of peace and love", Rajoub said.

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