Argentina fan Remy Friedman at the market in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: RUTY KOROTAEV)
The soccer match between Argentina and Israel was canceled because it had been scheduled to be played in Jerusalem, the country’s Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said on Thursday.
“The game, as you all know, was scheduled to take place in Haifa,” Faurie told reporters.
The ruckus around the Jerusalem venue was the result of the sensitivity resulting from the relocation of the US Embassy to the city last month. His office had therefore advised the Argentine Football Association not to hold the game there, he said, according to Channel 2.
On Wednesday, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said that the match had been canceled because of threats made against the team’s start player Lionel Messi and his family.
Argentine Football Association president Claudio Tapia similarly told reporters: “The actions, the threats that have taken place have led us to decide not to travel.”
But Palestinian Football Association head Jabril Rajoub, who had inflamed emotions around the game by calling on people to burn Messi’s shirt and picture, also said the issue was Jerusalem.
He had also written to the Argentine Football Association asking that it cancel the game due to its location.
Separately, the Hebrew website Ynet reported that Qatar had offered the Argentine Football Association money to cancel the game.
Israel Ambassador to the UNESCO Carmel Shama-HaCohen said the report was not true. Upon hearing it, he had planned to ask UNESCO to condemn Qatar’s involvement in the matter.
But before doing so, he had asked a number of sources with ties to Qatar to check out the matter. One of them showed him a WhatsApp conversation with Qatar’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thanithat, that stated: “I have no idea at all, I swear.”
The foreign minister also wrote: “We did not even interfere.”