February 22, 2019

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Argentina-Israel Soccer Game Canceled Over Playing in Jerusalem

Argentina-Israel Soccer Game Canceled Over Playing in Jerusalem
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“When it became known that it would be in Jerusalem, the first thing we did was get in touch with A.F.A. to alert them about the sensitivity and delicate situation that this implied, including because it could involve security issues,” the Argentine foreign minister, Jorge Faurie, said in an interview with local radio station Mitre.

Israeli officials reacted bitterly to the cancellation of the game.

“It’s unfortunate the soccer 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,” the Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, wrote on Twitter.

Israel’s ambassador to Argentina, Ilan Sztulman, retweeted a message from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, thanking Argentina for the cancellation. “If a terrorist group congratulates you …” he wrote.

“I understand the fear that players have but I can assure you Israel is a very safe place,” Mr. Sztulman said in an interview with the cable news channel Todo Noticias.

Palestinian soccer officials, however, praised the cancellation.

“The Israelis tried to use Messi and those stars from Argentina, and I would like to thank them and appreciate their decision, which I think was on the right track,” Jibril Rajoub, the president of the Palestinian Football Association, said at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In the streets of Argentina’s capital some people sought to look past the Mideast geopolitics that are widely debated here and focused their ire on the management of the national soccer team.

“Not that we needed it but it again showed how the management of Argentine football is a huge mafia,” said Lorena Quiroga, a 40-year-old small business owner. “All they care about is money, not the players.”

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