- Argentina have deiced to pull out of a friendly against Israel
- The decision was reached after several protests against the killing of Palestenians in Gaza
- The game was set to be played in Jerusalem amid growing tension following the relocation of the US embassy
- Messi was specifically urged not to play with Palestinian FA chief Rajoub saying the game was being used as a political tool
- Rajoub urged fans to burn shirts bearing the name and image of Messi if he played in the friendly
A friendly game between Argentina and Israel in preparation for the 2018 Fifa World Cup meant to take place at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem has been cancelled.
This is mainly owing to Palestinian Arab pressure resulting from clashes between Israeli authorities and Palestinians.
The escalating tension in Gaza that lead to the killing of several Palestinians was sparked by the recent decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
According to reports by Argentine media, made on Tuesday, June 5, protesters took to the streets in Argentina and close to the Argentina team's training camp in Barcelona.
Some of the pressure coming in against the friendly game were from Israel as well.
Politician Yousef Jabareeen met with the Argentine ambassador to Israel urging them to reconsider playing in Jerusalem.
"I stressed the the game, in the wake of the killing of the Palestinians in Gaza and the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, sends a dangerous message to the Israeli government that the world ignores its gross human rights violations. Messi cannot turn his back on the Palestinian victims," Jabareen told Israelinationalnews.
Palestinian Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub requested Messi not to play in the friendly citing the match had become a political tool.
"The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it to be held in Jerusalem" Rajoub told journalists in Ramallah.
Rajoub had also further written to Argentina's government specifically asking for Messi not to take part in the friendly against Israel slated for Thursday, June 9.
The game was meant to be initially held in Haifa, and it was only until some weeks ago the organisers decided to reconsider and move the game to Jerusalem.
Interestingly, the stadium at Haifa actually has greater sitting capacity and would be more ideal for a game that would witness thousands flock to see Messi in action.
Messi is a symbol of peace and love, we ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of occupation,"
"He has tens of million of fans in the Arab world and Muslim countries," he went on.
Rajoub further requested everyone who stand against human rights violations ongoing in Gaza to burn their shirts which bear his name and image if he played in the friendly.
Meanwhile Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called on Prime Minister Benjamin Nyetanayhu to intervene and make sure the friendly game was not cancelled.
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