Argentina’s national soccer team announced Tuesday that it was canceling a friendly match against Israel’s national team after facing political pressure.
Protesters outside the team’s Barcelona practice facility have displayed soccer jerseys dabbed with red paint resembling blood stains, and players and their families, particularly star player Lionel Messi, have reportedly received death threats. These were also among the reasons cited by Israeli leaders and Argentine representatives as to why the team decided not to go ahead with the match, which was scheduled for Saturday in Jerusalem.
Initially it had been slated to take place in the northern city of Haifa, but Israel’s minister of culture and sports, Miri Regev, decided to switch the venue to Jerusalem. She said that, as Israel’s capital, the city was the appropriate venue for such a prestigious game. About 30,000 tickets were sold for the match.
In her initial response, Israel’s minister of culture and sports, Miri Regev said that “since they announced they would play against Israel, various terror groups have been sending messages and letters to players on the Argentina national team and their relatives, including clear threats to hurt them and their families. “These included video clips of dead children,” local media reported.
In an attempt to get the match back on track, Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Tuesday night. But the South American leader said he did not have the ability to influence the national team’s decision, at least if the match took place in Jerusalem.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Ruth Eglash