BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentina’s national soccer team canceled this week’s friendly match with Israel after pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
After two months of pressure against the match with Israel, the Argentinian team’s players late on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the match scheduled to be held on Saturday night at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. The match was to be held just one week before the start of the World Cup in Russia.
Early in April, a boycott campaign sponsored by BDS Argentina was launched using the motto “Argentina don’t go” to Israel, or #ArgentinaNoVayas. BDS stands for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
The objections to the match are not just the fact that the match is being played in Jerusalem, since when the boycott campaign was first launched it was expected to be played in Tel Aviv. The venue was later moved to Haifa and then to Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Football Association, or PFA, last week urged Argentina to cancel the match. PFA President Jibril Rajoub accused Israel of “politicizing sport” by hosting the match in Jerusalem. Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev responded that the capital was the appropriate place to play such a prestigious game and quipped that it would give Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi a chance to pray at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, demonstrations against Israel and the friendly match were held in Barcelona, where the Argentinian team currently is holding training camp. The protests included burning Argentine flags and waving blood red tee shirts; similar protests were held in Buenos Aires and Ramallah
The Argentinean Football Association did not officially announce the cancellation, but the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires tweeted that the match was canceled due to “the threats against Messi that logically generated the solidarity of his teammates.”
Argentina-Israel Soccer Match Cancelled