Israel-Argentina:
Left celebrates cancellation of soccer match

Opposition takes advantage of match cancellation against Argentina. Football Assoc.: 'We'll act harshly against Palestinian incitement.'

Nitsan Keidar,

Avi Gabbay
Avi Gabbay
Flash 90

The Israeli Left is exploiting the cancellation of Argentina's national soccer team as a friendly match with Israel to attack the government.


Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay wrote on Twitter: "A bomb exploded in our face. It's not just sports. Like this, unfortunately, an international tsunami might start.


"As for the Sport Minister's corrupt behavior - from the torchbearers, through Times Square to Argentina - it requires a police investigation. This is our country, our taxes, our national honor and not its primaries machine," added Gabbay.


Opposition head MK Isaac Herzog said this is a "spectacular personal goal for all those government spokesmen who promise us that our political situation is excellent. It's very painful that the BDS is celebrating. A resounding failure of a government that is burying its head and not reading reality."


MK Zuhair Bahlul (Zionist Union) was more extreme. "The behavior of Minister Regev and Netanyahu in the pursuit of honor and political capital took its price. The insistence on transferring the game to Jerusalem and their brutal intervention in every detail, up to the handshake level of what was supposed to be an ordinary friendly sports event, brought politics into the story.


"The pathological obsession with Jerusalemization turned the game into a purely political event that created antagonism until its cancellation," says Bahlul.


Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid also took the opportunity and said, "The biggest problem of this government is that everything is a gig.


"Tickets for the game are scalped, the fight against BDS is transferred to the Ministry of Public Security for political reasons. The Culture Minister dresses up as Foreign Minister only to get in front of the cameras, and in the end, no one does the work and Argentina won't come to Israel," Lapid said.

The Israeli embassy in Argentina officially announced that the friendly match scheduled for this Saturday between the national soccer teams of Argentina and Israel has been cancelled, due to "threats and provocations against Lionel Messi, which logically raised fears against holding the game."

Sport Minister Miri Regev’s office said in a statement that she had been told that ever since the Argentine national team announced it would play in Israel, various terrorist organizations have been sending messages and threats to the team’s players and their families, with explicit threats to harm their lives and their family's lives. Among other things, players were sent videos and pictures of children's bodies.

Minister Regev said, "I hope that Argentina's players will not succumb to the terror threats and to the BDS organizations." Regev referred to messages issued by diaspora politicians regarding the failure of the Argentina team to arrive at the game in Jerusalem and said: "These are nonsense that legitimize terrorism and BDS supporters against the State of Israel."


For Argentina, which has recently tightened ties with Israel, this is a real diplomatic incident and it is known that the local association is raising money to compensate ticket purchasers and the event producer in Israel.


Government ministers think Argentina took a hasty step. Minister Yisrael Katz said today that "the Argentina team gave in to threats and canceled its planned game in Israel. I still remember Maradona playing in Israel in 1986 and then winning the World Cup, and Messi himself visited with Barcelona in Jerusalem and the Wall in 2013, so what's changed? A few threats from Jibril Rajoub and already they fold?"


Minister Gilad Erdan added in an interview with Army Radio: "The Argentine players were afraid they'd be attacked in Jerusalem. Instead of checking with us - they preferred to cancel. There was incitement and threats to violence by the Palestinians and the terrorist Jibril Rajoub."


The Football Association issued an official response this morning to cancel the game. "The chairman of the Israel Football Association, Ofer Eini and CEO Rotem Kamer, are in direct contact with the organizers of the game, the heads of the Argentine Football Association and the FIFA leaders following news of the cancellation of the Argentina team's scheduled game with the Israeli team on Saturday night."


The association noted that "at the moment, no official confirmation of the cancellation of the game has been received, although it is clear that its very existence is in doubt."


They also threatened to prosecute the Palestinian Football Association, which sent direct threats to Argentine players if they arrived in Israel. "The Association sees with severity the physical and brutal threats that crossed every red line made by the head of the Palestinian Association, Jibril Rajoub, and will do everything in its power in the world soccer institutions to bring to justice those who dared to incite to harm soccer players and to torpedo a friendly match between the two teams."


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