Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Palestinians welcome after Argentina cancels Israel game

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Cassandra Gardner | 07 June, 2018, 01:17

"Our group also has Croatia and debutant Iceland which makes things even more complicated in Group D".

The pre-World Cup "friendly" match was scheduled for Saturday at Teddy Stadium, located in West Jerusalem. "When Messi and the Argentinian national team come to Israel before the World Cup, it is clear that they will play in Jerusalem", she stated.

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

Argentina's controversial friendly against Israel has been suspended after the match scheduled in Jerusalem provoked waves of protest, according to multiple reports.

"It's unfortunate the [football] 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 defense minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Argentina are now looking for a last minute rival for another friendly, which would take place in Barcelona.

Rajoub had accused Israel of using the match as a political tool and now the clash has been cancelled.

The United States shifted its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem in May on the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel, in a move met with condemnation from the Palestinians.

The game in Jerusalem was hotly opposed by Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

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"I understand all the excitement over Messi, I understand the affection and Israelis' desire to be a part of this game".

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian football association, had encouraged fans to burn shirts bearing Messi's name if he made a decision to play.

News of the cancellation sparked cheers in Gaza, where over 120 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.

Some waved the blue and white striped kit of Argentina's national team stained with red paint resembling blood. "Health and common sense come first. We always aim to win and we will try to go slowly but strongly to advance in the competition".

Captain Lionel Messi has dismissed talks about Argentina being the favourites to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.

It is unclear whether Argentina will play another warm-up, or arrive in Moscow ahead of schedule.

A senior source at Argentina's Football Federation, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the game had been called off.

"I congratulate Palestine at such a great sport victory and the tough blow to the occupation", Abdel-Salam Haniyeh, member of the Palestinian higher council of youth and sport, wrote on Facebook after news of the cancellation broke.

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