Argentina's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring the side's first goal in a World Cup match against Iceland, June 16, 2018.
(photo credit: ALBERT GEA/ REUTERS)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The Israeli Embassy in Argentina spread a message of support for its host country’s national team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, despite the canceled friendly match between Israel and Argentina.
The messages included strong support for team star Lionel “Lio” Messi, who had been the victim of death threats over his planned participation in the match in Jerusalem.
The delegation posted on social media a video saying it “will be waiting for ‘Lio,'” referring to Messi and the canceled friendly, which had been scheduled despite the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
The message continued: “but not so much Lio,” which in Spanish means “troubles,” referring to the final cancellation three days before the match that led to global criticism by Jewish groups and a disciplinary proceeding against the president of the Palestinian soccer governing body.
Continuing with the word games, the embassy said that Israel waited in vain for Messi, but that “… we are a people used to waiting for the… Messi-ah.”
The video shows embassy staffers painting their faces with blue and white for Israel but also light blue and white, the Argentina team’s colors. The video, which was tweeted by the embassy, shows Israel’s ambassador to Buenos Aires, Ilan Sztulman, wearing an Argentine team T-shirt and saying: “No doubt, we will be supporting the light blue and white.” The video shows the embassy team celebrating a Messi goal against Brazil, even though Sztulman is a native of Brazil.
The Israeli support for Argentina’s national team gained attention from the major Argentine media and was followed by another tweet just before Saturday’s match wishing the team “success.”
But surprisingly Argentina didn’t manage to win in its first match, against Iceland, and Messi, one of the world’s greatest players, missed a penalty kick.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also took to Twitter to discuss Argentina’s national soccer team, but with a much different message.
“In the Argentina against Iceland game we saw just how much Messi needed the warm-up game against Israel,” he tweeted, suggesting that Messi missed the penalty kick because of the cancellation of the match in Jerusalem.