The Argentinian Football Team, who are amongst the favourites to win this summer’s World Cup, were scheduled to play a friendly against Israel in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem this week as their final pre-tournament match, but took the noble decision to withdraw following pressure from Palestine and other anti-apartheid groups.
The match had been built up and many in Israel would have loved to have seen it with a side boasting one of football’s greatest stars in Lionel Messi, but embarrassingly for the Zionists, it wasn’t to be. The powerful Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) had led the way in calling for the match to be cancelled, saying last month:
“There is nothing ‘friendly’ about military occupation and apartheid. Don’t play Israel until Palestinians’ human rights are respected.”
Palestinian footballer Mohamad Khalil, who was shot in his legs by Zionist snipers during the recent peaceful protests at the Gaza border, had also appealed to Leo Messi:
“I call on the Argentinian team and especially captain Lionel Messi – because he is very popular in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza Strip – to stand in solidarity with Palestinians and to boycott the scheduled game with Israel, which is occupying our land.”
Their campaign proved to be a success in the end, with Argentina withdrawing just days before the scheduled match, which would have been a propaganda coup for the Zionist Occupation, as the Head of Palestinian Football explained: “The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem”.
Star striker Gonzalo Higuain commended the decision, telling ESPN:
“They’ve finally done the right thing”.
There was no initial reaction from Israel as reports suggested the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the Argentinian president in a desperate, embarrassing attempt to save face and salvage the match. Once they realised that they would not succeed, they struck a different chord and instead criticised Argentinian’s decision to side with justice.
Speaking after the Argentina withdrawal, the Palestinian FA said:
“The Palestinian FA thanks Argentina’s players led by star Messi for refusing to be used to serve a non-sporting goal.”
The Palestinian FA chairman, Jibril Rajoub, added:
“Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game.”
Campaign group Avaaz also praised the “brave ethical decision”, making the obvious observation:
“This proves Argentina understands there is nothing friendly about playing in Jerusalem, when just miles away Israeli snipers are shooting unarmed protesters.”