Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Qatar Behind Argentine Game Cancellation

Qatar Behind Argentine Game Cancellation

Earlier reports said that Argentina offered to schedule two new matches in Israel in October and March, on condition that they would not take place in Jerusalem - the city that is among the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They refused to play in Jerusalem because Palestinians are "violent" and "threatening".

"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.

But Israel says the campaign goes beyond Israeli occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians and masks a deeper aim of delegitimising or even destroying the country.

The cancellation was seen as a victory for the global Palestinian anti-Israel campaign.

There was no immediate reaction on the cancellation from Israel, but Israeli news site Ynet reported that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene.

Argentina's national soccer team has pulled out of an exhibition match with Israel scheduled for this weekend in Jerusalem, but Israel's minister of culture and sport said it was in response to security threats against the team's star rather than political pressure from Palestinian groups.

Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub penned a letter, obtained by Israeli newspaper Haaretz and others, to the Argentine Football Association last week, encouraging the team to call off the game.

The same sources suggest Argentina, which hopes to host the 2030 World Cup, was reluctant to upset the Arab voting bloc inside Federation Internationale de Football Association.

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"I think what happened yesterday is a red card from everybody to the Israelis to (get them to) understand that they (only) have a right to organise, or play football within their internationally recognised borders", he said in English, pointing out the final status of Jerusalem is supposed to be the subject of negotiations between the parties.

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said before confirmation of the game's cancellation that he believed his country's players had been reluctant to travel to Israel for the match. He had called on Arabs to burn Lionel Messi pictures and Messi T-shirts if he played the match.

"Argentina is seven days from the World Cup".

Tapia added that he had to prioritize the safety and health of his team ahead of the start of next week's tournament.

Rajoub's gambit was another facet of the Palestinian Authority's escalating efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel in bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court-politicizing organizations that could theoretically serve a noble objective if they weren't so consumed with anti-Israel animus.

In the United States, European football is called soccer.

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

"The Argentinians did not object to having the game in Jerusalem".

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