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

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Why the match became controversial?

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli had last week aired misgivings about having to travel to Israel, noting he would have preferred to remain in Barcelona, where the team is holding its pre-World Cup training camp.

Palestinians claim the eastern part of Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

But Saturday's match, which was sold out, is off. Fans had been clamoring to see Messi play in West Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium.

What was the Palestinian response? .

On Thursday, the association tweeted: "Israel FA has filed a complaint to FIFA only against the Palestinian FA and the president of the PFA, Jibril Rajoub". I was hoping that the Israeli side would keep politics away from sports.

He added that there was huge support for South American football teams, and Argentina in particular, and that connection would be jeopardised, if they played in Jerusalem.

Messi is wildly popular in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Gaza, where kids parade around in his jerseys like so many other places in the world.

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But its status had been placed in doubt earlier, following protests by Palestinian football authorities who had urged Messi not to take part.

Argentina will begin its quest for a World Cup title against Iceland on June 16. There must have been security concerns as well.

"There is an issue of personal threats against players".

"It's nothing against the Israeli community, it's nothing against the Jewish community", Tapia said.

"The Embassy of Israel regrets to communicate the suspension of the match between Israel and Argentina", a statement said, referring to "threats and provocations" against Messi. The decision may also have been prompted by ongoing violence along the Israeli-Gaza border, that have claimed more than 115 Palestinians lives with almost 3,700 more wounded, according to Palestinian estimates.

"In the end, they've done right thing, and this is behind us", Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain said.

'Health and common sense come first.

"We knew the Palestinian opposition to hosting the game in Jerusalem would happen", said 21-year-old IDF soldier, Liron Artuz.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene, to no avail.

"It's unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defense and bring about the destruction of Israel", said Liberman.

They even offered to play the match in Barcelona, but that seems far-fetched.

"Unfortunately, we can not come to Israel in the current situation", Claudio Tapia, the president of the federation, said at a press conference in Barcelona, where the team has been training ahead of the World Cup. Sports minister Miri Regev rejected that moving the match to Jerusalem is what resulted in the match's cancellation.

Palestinian organizations have been sending threats since it was announced that the match would be held in Jerusalem.

How did Palestinian take to the pullout?

On Wednesday, Rajoub thanked the Argentines for "following their conscience".

He also accused Israel of using the match as a "political tool" and urged the chief of the Argentinian FA to cancel the encounter. It is a victory of "ehics and values" in sport. He celebrated Argentina's move at a press conference by reading a fan's sign that said: "From Palestine, thank you Messi".

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The boycott movement welcomed the cancellation.

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