Argentina’s interntional friendly against Israel has been cancelled after threats were made against Lionel Messi.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side were due to play in Jerusalem on Saturday but there had been plenty of protests about the match.
Palestinian Football Federation president Jibril Rajoub had warned against the game taking place. “Don’t come Messi, don’t be the mask for the face of racism,” he said, according to Marca.
The Israeli embassy has now confirmed the match is off and explained why it will not be taking place.
“The Israeli embassy is sad to announce the suspension of the match between the Israel and Argentina national teams scheduled for Saturday June 9, as a warm-up for the Russia World Cup.”
”The threats and provocations directed at Lionel Messi, which logically aroused the solidarity of his colleagues and fear of playing the friendly, are no strangers to the daily life of Israel’s civilian population whose sporting stars, to put it simply, have been on numerous occasions the targets of violence and attacks.
”The friendship between Argentina and Israel, which will soon celebrate its 70th anniversary, is not about a football match. The democratic country and plural state (composed of Jews, Muslims and Christians), will always eagerly await the chance to receive one of the stars of Argentine sport.”
Source | Goal
The decisions means real disruption to Argentina’s World Cup plans. The team had originally been scheduled to start off their preparations with a friendly against Nicaragua but that game was called off due to safety concerns.
The team then played Haiti in Buenos Aires before flying to Barcelona ahead of the game against Israel. Now that game has been called off reports claim Argentina are hurriedly trying to fix alternative opponents, otherwise they face going to Russia with just one game as preparation.