World Tsunami Averted, As Argentina Avoids Risk, Takes Immediate Decision Against Isreali’s Football Team

Argentina has avoided what could be the biggest risk of the century, by the cancellation of its final warm-up game against Isreal.

As soon as the game was announced, there was a fierce Palestinian protest, which included images of Argentina’s white and sky-blue striped jersey, stained with red paint resembling blood; and threats to burn Lionel Messi’s posters.

This forced Argentina’s Football Federation, AFA, to announce that it was skipping the event.

Claudio Tapia, President of the AFA, in a statement, apologised for cancelling the match, but said that the safety of the players was at stake.

Israel was in an uproar on Wednesday, over Argentina’s abrupt cancellation of a World Cup warm-up match, accusing Lionel Messi and his teammates, of caving to terrorism.

The Palestinians celebrated the cancellation as a major triumph. In Gaza, people cheered, and in Ramallah in the West Bank, the Palestinian Football Association issued a statement thanking Messi and his colleagues for cancelling the game.

Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, and urged him to intervene, but to no avail.

“It is unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self – defence, and bring about the destruction of Israel”, said Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

“We will not yield before a pack of anti-Semitic terrorist supporters.”

The head of the Palestinian FA, Jibril Rajoub, had called on Arab soccer fans to burn Messi’s posters and T-shirts, if he participated. He has long tried to get soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee, to impose sanctions against Israel.

Although, the Kollek Stadium is in West Jerusalem, it is located in a neighbourhood built where a Palestinian village once stood before it was destroyed in the war surrounding Israel’s independence in 1948.

Following the move, he held a Press Conference in Ramallah, featuring a picture of him with Messi, and a sign reading, “From Palestine, thank you, Messi.”

Rajoub had accused Israel of playing politics with the game, by moving it from its original location in Haifa, to Jerusalem, and by trying to link it to celebrations surrounding Israel’s 70th anniversary.

He called it a victory for “ethics and values” of sports. “They tried to use sport as a tool for political ends, and for this, I think, they failed”, Rajoub said.

Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, said it was a sad morning for Israeli sports fans, including his own grandchildren.

“But there are values that are greater than even Messi. The politicisation of the Argentinean move worries me greatly”, he said.

Opposition figures, however, accused Israel’s headline-seeking Sports Minister, Miri Regev, of bringing on the politicisation of the sporting event, by insisting on moving the game from Haifa to contested Jerusalem, and by trying to orchestrate a politicised photo-op with Messi. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognised. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, while the Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future State.

Opposition Leader, Isaac Herzog, called the snub a “spectacular own goal” by Regev, that delivered victory to boycotters of the Jewish State. Labor Party Leader, Avi Gabbay, called for a Police investigation into Regev’s “corrupt conduct.”

“We just absorbed a shot in the face. This is not just sports”, he tweeted. “This, unfortunately, could start an international tsunami.”

The Argentinean move, which featured on the front pages of all the major Israeli dailies, raised fears that it could serve as a template for future boycotts of Jerusalem, most notably next year’s scheduled hosting of the popular Eurovision song contest.”

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