MNA Sports Desk: Argentina has called off a World Cup warm-up match against Israel following protests by pro-Palestinian groups, reported news agency.
A source at Argentina’s football federation on Tuesday confirmed the cancellation of the international friendly scheduled to be played Saturday at Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to comment.
The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, had urged Argentina to cancel the match and had called on Arab soccer fans to burn posters of Argentina captain Lionel Messi if he participated.
Although the stadium that was slated to host the match is in west Jerusalem, Rajoub had complained that it is situated in a neighborhood built on the site of a former Palestinian village destroyed during the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.
Rajoub has long urged FIFA to expel Israel from the international football federation, citing Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian soccer players and because Israel maintains teams in West Bank settlements.
The cancellation came hours after pro-Palestinian activists staged a demonstration in front of the sports complex in Barcelona where Argentina is preparing ahead of the World Cup. Some waved the white and sky-blue striped jersey of Argentina’s national team stained with red paint resembling blood.