Argentina has cancelled its upcoming football match against Israel amidst condemnation for the Latin American country for its decision to have sporting ties with a country, whose troops have been committing war crimes against innocent Palestinians.
The World Cup warm-up match with Israel was scheduled to take place on 9 June. According to reports, Argentina was forced to cancel the fixture apparently under pressure over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.
The famous Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain said that they had “finally done the right thing.” “In the end, they’ve done right thing, and this is behind us,” Higuain told ESPN. “Health and common sense come first. We felt that it wasn’t right to go.”
But Israel’s defence minister said it was “too bad” Argentina’s footballers did not “withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters”. “We will not yield before a pack of anti-Semitic terrorist supporters,” a visibly frustrated Avigdor Lieberman tweeted.
Argentinian sports website Minutouno reported on Tuesday that Saturday’s game in Jerusalem had been “suspended” amid an “escalation of violence, threats and criticism” directed at captain ‘Leo’ Messi. The planned match was to be played at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, which has been built on land that was once a Palestinian village that was destroyed in 1948.
A report by Al-Jazeera had said that the ambassador of Palestine in Argentina, Husni Abdel Wahed, had expressed his opposition to the friendly
“This match would be similar to us celebrating … the occupation of Malvinas,” he told Radio Cooperativa on Tuesday, referring to the Falkland Islands.
Abdel Wahed went on to say that the match was part of the celebrations of Israel’s 70th anniversary since its establishment in 1948, after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their villages and lands by Zionist paramilitaries.
“For us, it is unacceptable to hold this game in Jerusalem because it is occupied territory, and it is painful to see that the team, which has the love and support of so many Palestinians and Arab citizens, support the violation of international law,” he said.
In Palestine, where the Israel’s occupied forces have so far massacred 120 innocent civilians including a 20-year-old paramedic Razan al-Najjar, people welcomed the news with loud cheers. This has come just few days after the Israeli troops, who Palestinians view as barbaric Jewish terrorists, had brutally killed Razan as she struggled to provide medical aid to injured.