Israel’s soccer association accuses PA counterpart of intimidating Argentinian team’s players into canceling friendly match in Israel.
Israel’s soccer association announced Wednesday it will file a complaint to FIFA accusing its Palestinian Authority counterpart of pressuring Argentinian players and staff into cancelling a friendly match.
Rotem Kamer, vice-president of the Israeli Football Association, accused the PA’s FA of “football terror” after its leader called for protests against Argentina in the buildup to the game against Israel that had been scheduled for Saturday.
We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president (Jibril Rajoub),” he said, accusing them of “threatening soccer players (against) coming to Israel.”
He also alleged the families of players were threatened.
“We are seeing it as crossing a red line and we cannot accept it.”
“We are going to send an official complaint to (world football’s governing body) FIFA and the disciplinary committee to take action.”
The Israeli embassy officially announced the cancellation of the match Tuesday night.
“The threats and provocations against Lionel Messi, which logically raised fears against holding the game, are not foreign to the daily lives of the Israeli population, whose athletes have often been the target of violence and terror attacks,” the embassy said in a series of tweets.
Reports in Argentina on Tuesday night said the match was cancelled earlier following Palestinian Arab pressure on the Argentine team not to play in Jerusalem
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed his disappointment in the decision to cancel, and excoriated BDS activists who pressured the Argentinian team to drop out.
“It’s a shame that Argentina’s footballing nobility did not withstand the pressure from Israeli-hating inciters,” wrote Liberman, “whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defense and to bring about the destruction of Israel. We won’t give in to a bunch of anti-Semitic terror-supporters.”
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) later said a statement that terror groups had threatened the Argentinian team’s players and their families with explicit threats. Among other things, the players were sent videos and pictures of children’s bodies.