Italy's Vice Premier: Hatred should not block a sporting event

Italy’s Vice Premier and Interior Minister expresses solidarity with Israel after Argentina-Israel friendly match is cancelled.

Ben Ariel ,

Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini

Italy’s Vice Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday expressed solidarity with Israel and with Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev in the wake of the cancellation of the friendly soccer match between the Israeli and Argentinian national teams.

In a statement tweeted by the Italian embassy in Israel, Salvini said “it is not possible that hatred, threats and violence could block even a peaceful sport event."

The Israeli embassy in Argentina officially announced on Tuesday night that the friendly match had been cancelled, citing threats against Argentine star Lionel Messi as the reason for the cancellation.

"The threats and provocations against Lionel Messi, which logically raised fears against holding the game, are not foreign to the daily lives of the Israeli population, whose athletes have often been the target of violence and terror attacks," the embassy said in a series of tweets.

Earlier reports in Argentina indicated the match was cancelled earlier following Palestinian Arab pressure on the Argentine team not to play in Jerusalem.

Regev on Wednesday evening addressed the cancellation of the friendly match, saying, “This is a decision stemming from threats to the life of the national team star Messi. The terror threats to his life were decisive for him.”

“This is the same terrorism that led to the murder of the fallen in Munich. Then they were murderers from Black September, today it is Jibril Rajoub who continues with the terror," she continued, in a reference to the head of the Palestinian Football Association, who had called on Messi not to play in the Argentina-Israel game in Jerusalem, urging fans to burn their shirts if he does.