After numerous threats on the life of Argentinian soccer megastar Lionel Messi,
the Argentinian national soccer team has canceled a friendly match scheduled to take place with the Israeli national team in Jerusalem. The cancellation represents a major victory for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
“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 Israeli Embassy in Argentina wrote on Twitter.
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie confirmed the threats, saying the players and the coach wanted to cancel the game, having been influenced by viral social media campaigns, threats and bloodied Argentinian team shirts used during protests.
The match was scheduled to be played at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium. Excitement over the last game before the World Cup led to tickets being sold out within 20 minutes.
According to reports, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev was informed that from the moment the game was first announced, terror organizations began sending explicit threats to the players and their families, including images and videos of children’s dead bodies.
“I congratulate the Palestinians on the great sportive victory and on the serious blow to the occupation,” Abdel-Salem Haniyeh of the Palestinian Higher Council of Sport posted on Facebook. “We thank all the liberals among the sports people and all those who stood by our side in the demand to cancel the game between Argentina and the occupation in Jerusalem.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on Twitter: “It is a shame that the soccer greats from Argentina gave in to the pressure of the anti-Israel instigators, whose only goal was to violate our basic right to self-defense and lead to Israel’s destruction. We won’t give in to a group of terror-supporting anti-Semites.”
Israel national football team coach Alon Hazan expressed his disappointment on Wednesday.
“With all due respect to Messi, if the match is canceled because it was supposed to take place in Jerusalem, I wish him and Argentina the best of luck,” said Israel national football team coach Alon Hazan. “As an Israeli and a Jew, Jerusalem is far more important to me than Messi and Argentina. Messi is the greatest of his generation, but Jerusalem is forever.”