Regev: Lionel Messi will kiss the Kotel

Regev dismissed reports that the international soccer star would refuse to shake hands with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Argentina's Lionel Messi (photo credit: REUTERS)
Argentina's Lionel Messi
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The arrival of the Argentinian national soccer team and its most famous player Lionel Messi in Israel will help Israeli Hasbara, Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev told Army Radio Monday morning. Regev also dismissed reports that the soccer star will refuse to shake hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and government ministers,
Messi will come "to kiss the Western Wall" Regev said, adding: "We will wait and see who shakes hands with whom."
"I understand all the excitement over Messi, I understand the affection, and Israelis' desire to be a part of this game. If only we had a stadium that could hold the thousands who want to come see the game," Regev said, referring to the decision to host the game in Jerusalem and not in Haifa's Sami Ofer stadium.
Palestinian soccer chief says fans should burn Messi"s shirt if he plays against Israel in Jerusalem, June 3, 2018 (Reuters)
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"What would have happened in Haifa is just not interesting at all. When Messi and the Argentinian national team come to Israel before the World Cup, it is clear that they will play in Jerusalem," she added.
"At a time when we are fighting to move embassies to Jerusalem, this is not even a question," Regev said. "One of the most popular players in the world, who has a billion followers — there is no question that the right thing is for him to play in Jerusalem. What better Hasbara is there? He is coming to Israel not because we have something special other than the Western Wall — which is the biggest thing there is — he is coming to kiss the Wall."
The culture minister dismissed reports that the international soccer star will refuse to shake hands with Netanyahu and with her.
"I do not know what it means that he does not want to do it. I am not familiar with that and have never heard about it from the promoter," Regev said. "I will not force him, of course. I have no intention of forcing anyone to do anything. From my perspective, the important thing is that the Argentinian national team and Messi are coming to Israel before the World Cup and are playing in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is on the map: in this era of BDS, there is nothing more important. We are waiting for Messi and will see who shakes hands with whom."
Regev also responded to reports that 200 tickets were set aside for the sole purchase of employees of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. "The workers' committee and the management, without any relation to me, decided to pay out of their private pockets for 200 tickets," Regev said. "If you are asking me, they decided to give this up unjustly, in my opinion. What happened? The Culture and Sport Ministry promotes Israeli sport. This is not a case of nepotism; they did not get a shekel discount on these tickets."
"I want to see an event put on by the ministries of justice, tourism or health in which ministry employees cannot take part," she added. "This is envy, this is vice. I was not involved in this. I do not understand all this hulabaloo over 200 tickets, I do not understand the issue. Why the hysteria?"