[News] Israel To Ask FIFA to Ban Argentina From World Cup Over 'Religious Discrimination' After Canceled Match

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 7 15:29:47 EDT 2018


  Israel To Ask FIFA to Ban Argentina From World Cup Over 'Religious
  Discrimination' After Canceled Match

7 June 2018

The Football Federation of Israel and the company in charge of 
organizing the now-canceled friendly match between Argentina and Israel 
will demand FIFA expel the Argentine team from the 2018 World Cup in 
Russia due to alleged “religious discrimination.”


    *BDS Victory: Friendly Match Between Argentina, Israel Cancelled

The match was intended for Saturday, June 9 at 3:30 p.m. local Israeli 
time, but it was called off after an intense campaign from the BDS 
movement. It would have been the last match before the team's official 
participation in the World Cup.

Comtec Group, an Israeli production company that regularly organizes 
sport-washing events in the occupied territories, announced Thursday 
morning they will fly to Zurich and file a complaint hoping to get the 
star Latin American team kicked out of the tournament, according to the 
Argentine TyCSports, their organizing counterpart.

The company said they had already paid US$2 million to the Argentine 
Football Association (AFA) and that the tickets for the match programmed 
at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem sold out in just 20 minutes.

The Football Federation of Israel backed up Comtec Group's decision, 
which echoes their previous accusations against the Palestinian Football 

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a blatant sports 
diplomacy move, unsuccessfully called Argentine President Mauricio Macri 
to try and convince the national team to play the friendly match. Macri, 
according to The Times of Israel, told Netanyahu he had no control over 
their decision.

In fact, it was AFA's President Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia who made the 
decision. “The ones calling us ignorant are underestimating us because 
this conflict has been going on for more than 70 years. What happened in 
the last few hours led us to take this decision...” said Tapia in a 
press conference after multiple protests against the match.


    *Israel Blames BDS Movement for Cancellation of Argentina Match

“I hope you all can understand the decision I took as a contribution to 
world peace. Football goes beyond religions, sexes... and has nothing to 
do with violence...” he continued.

But some people didn't understand the message and interpreted the move 
as an aggression instead of resistance.

“It’s unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the 
pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our 
basic right to self-defense and bring about the destruction of Israel,” 
said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “We will not yield 
before a pack of anti-Semitic terrorist supporters.”

The turn of the events even fostered controversy within the occupation 
authorities. The Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Mirian Regev, from 
the conservative Likud party, is being accused by several Israeli 
officials and football fans of politicizing the match by moving it from 
Haifa to Jerusalem, a move that proved controversial given the recent 
decision by the U.S. administration of Donald Trump to recognize the 
city as Israel's capital, contradicting international agreements. 
Palestinians see at least the eastern part of the city as the future 
capital of their independent state.

Yitzhak Herzog, a Labor Party member of the Knesset and leader of the 
opposition, called Regev's move “a spectacular own goal,” while Avi 
Gabbay, head of the same party, called for an investigation on Regev 
over corruption allegations.

Regev, on her part, accused the Knesset members of being “troy horses 
aiding terrorism.”

Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian football association, 
celebrated Argentina’s move at a press conference by reading a fan’s 
sign that said: “From Palestine, thank you Messi.”

The Israeli embassy in Argentina regretted the decision to cancel the 
match and blamed the “threats and provocations aimed at Lionel Messi, 
which logically sparked solidarity among his partners and fear over the 
match,” and suggested that this is what athletes in the Middle Eastern 
country must endure in their everyday life.

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