Sports

Lionel Messi expects Argentina to compete for World Cup

Lionel Messi expects Argentina to compete for World Cup

"The decision behind the cancellation is because of one reason only, the threats by terror elements sent to Messi, his family and to other players in the Argentina team", Regev said, but she did not give any details on the nature of the threats.

The South Americans will play a World Cup warm-up match at Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium on 9 June.

"The match has become a political tool more than a sport due to Israel's insisting on having the game played in Jerusalem, which it claims as its capital city", said Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association. No player of Argentina football federation official spoke to the media.

Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain announced on Tuesday that the match was cancelled. Let us know in the comments section below.

Welcoming Argentina's decision, Omar Barghouti of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), said that taking part in the match "would have been extremely unfriendly to human rights!"

In Gaza, people cheered and in Ramallah in the West Bank, the Palestinian Football Association issued a statement thanking Messi and his colleagues for cancelling the game.

Reports said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Argentinian president Mauricio Macri to ask him to persuade the team not to cancel their visit.

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.

More news: Brazil vs. Croatia - Football Match Report

Argentina has made four previous pre-World Cup stopovers in Israel since 1986.

"We are seeing it as crossing a red line and we can not accept it", Kamer said, adding an official complaint would be sent to world football's governing body FIFA.

More than 115 Palestinians have been killed and almost 3,700 wounded during near-weekly protests along the Israeli border, according to Palestinian health officials.

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

The Argentina versus Israel friendly match scheduled for this weekend has sparked a wave of criticisms in pro-Palestine circles, with Palestinian fans and footballing authorities demanding that the match be called off.

The match comes weeks after Israeli forces shot dead at least 60 Palestinians protested on the Israel-Gaza border. The Jewish state considers the entire city its own "indivisible" capital.

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


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