WJC: Cancellation of soccer game sets dangerous precedent

World Jewish Congress condemns cancellation of friendly match between Israel and Argentina.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

ליאו מסי
ליאו מסי
צילום: רויטרס

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Wednesday condemned the cancellation of the friendly match between Israel and Argentina that was due to take place in Jerusalem on Saturday.

In a statement, the WJC said that the cancellation is a win for incitement to terror which, it said, “sets a dangerous precedent.”

“The cancellation follows a campaign of intimidation and incitement to terror against the players and their families, and should not be looked at as an isolated incident,” continued the statement.

“The chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub, who is a convicted terrorist, frequently uses his position to demonize Israel, politicize sports, and incite to violence,” noted the WJC. “He recently urged fans to burn pictures of Argentina’s football star Lionel Messi and replicas of his shirt if he played in the match. Following this threat, a group of youths wearing Palestinian soccer scarves held a demonstration, where they attempted to set fire to an Argentinian flag outside the Argentine representative office in Ramallah.”

The cancellation of the match, warned WJC, “is a win for incitement to terror, and sets a dangerous precedent for all sports.”

“Sports is meant to bring people together regardless of politics, race, or religion. We must not let terror prevail,” it concluded.

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.

Rajoub welcomed the cancellation of the friendly game, saying, “Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game.”

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) on Wednesday evening addressed the cancellation of the friendly match and blasted Rajoub, 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.

Her comments came after Israel's soccer association announced it will file a complaint to FIFA over Rajoub’s pressuring Argentinian players and staff into cancelling the game.