Palestinians Thank Argentina and Lionel Messi for Canceling “Friendly” with Israel

Mobilizations across the world succeed in thwarting the Israeli government’s use of the match to cover up its war crimes and egregious human rights violations against Palestinians.


June 6, 2018 — On Tuesday, June 5, the Argentina National Football team canceled the “friendly” match with Israel planned for Saturday, following months of BDS campaigning that kicked off in Argentina.

Football fans and Palestinian human rights supporters had urged the Argentinian team and superstar footballer Lionel Messi to cancel the match, set to take place in an Israeli stadium built on the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village, al-Maliha, in response to Israel’s criminal shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Gaza.

Palestinian footballer Mohammad Khalil, whose career ended after he was shot by an Israeli sniper in both legs as he peacefully protested in Gaza, also urged Argentina and Messi to cancel the match with Israel.

Thousands joined Khalil, signing a petition to Messi and Argentina, noting the Israeli government would use the match to cover-up its brutal attacks on Palestinians, on and off the field.

Argentinian trade unions as well as the Madres de Plaza del Mayo joined the calls.  Last week, a rally took place outside the Argentina Football Association (AFA) in Buenos Aires.

Protests followed the Argentina team to Barcelona. On Tuesday, during the team’s training session ahead of the World Cup, Palestinian rights supporters used a megaphone to deliver the message directly to the players.

Israel was reportedly paying Argentina $3 million to play the match as part of its 70th anniversary “celebrations”.

President of Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, thanks Messi on Twitter

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said it welcomed Argentina’s decision to cancel. “The team responded to creative campaigning from fans around the world denouncing Israel’s sports-washing of its crimes against Palestinians,” the organization said on Twitter.

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