Could Messi visit Israel after all?

Plans reportedly underway for friendly match in Haifa between Barcelona FC and Atletico Madrid.

Ben Ariel ,

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi could visit Israel along with his Barcelona FC team for a friendly match against Atletico Madrid, Army Radio reported on Thursday.

The game, if it takes place, would be played at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa, according to the report.

Messi and the Argentinian national soccer team were scheduled to play a friendly match against the Israeli national team in Jerusalem last month, but the Argentinian team cancelled the game, citing threats against Messi as the reason for the cancellation.

The friendly between the Spanish teams will be produced by the Comtech company, which was also in charge of the canceled friendly match between Israel and Argentina, according to the Army Radio report.

Sources said that Idan Ofer, a London-based Israeli businessman who owns shares in Atletico Madrid, is the driving force behind the project. Ofer is the son of the late wealthy businessman Sammy Ofer, after whom the Sammy Ofer stadium in Haifa is named.

FIFA, the governing body of soccer, started disciplinary proceedings against Palestinian Football Association (PFA) chief Jibril Rajoub, after he called for protest against Messi and his plan to play with Argentina in Jerusalem.

In his speech, Rajoub encouraged burning Messi shirts if he played in Israel, and compared modern Israel to Nazi Germany.