Rabat - The Argentina versus Israel friendly match scheduled for this weekend has sparked a wave of criticisms in pro-Palestine circles, with Palestinian fans and footballing authorities demanding that the match be called off.
Rabat – The Argentina versus Israel friendly match scheduled for this weekend has sparked a wave of criticisms in pro-Palestine circles, with Palestinian fans and footballing authorities demanding that the match be called off.
The head of the Palestinian football federation, Jibril Rajoub, has asked supporters of the Palestinian cause, mostly Arabs and Muslims, to burn photos and t-shirts of Argentinean star Lionel Messi, if he participates in the game, which is scheduled for Saturday.
Rajoub made the announcement during a demonstration he organized in front of the Argentinean representative office in Ramallah, where he made his wishes known to the authorities of the Latin American country. He requested that they cancel their national team’s friendly game with Israel.
The match is to be played at the Jerusalem Teddy Kollek Stadium in the neighborhood of Malha, a site that once hosted a Palestinian village that was destroyed during the 1948 war following the establishment of the state of Israel.
In addition to the trauma of the destroyed village, it is also believed that Israel seeks to use the match that features the world’s most recognizable footballer for purely political motives.
“The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool. As was widely covered by the Argentinean media, the match will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel,” according to a letter that Rajoub sent to Argentina’s football federation.
“Messi, don’t come. Don’t whitewash the face of racism,” Rajoub said.
“He’s a big symbol so we are going to target him personally,” Rajoub further explained, as he urged fans to single out the Barcelona star if he plays a match believed to be a disgrace to the star’s Palestinian fans as well as people in the Muslim world, mostly in Asia and Africa.
“We call on everyone to burn his pictures and shirts and to abandon him. We still hope that Messi will not come,” he told reporters.
Despite the boycott campaign, Israeli authorities are confident that Messi will participate in the game. Thousands of Israeli fans are reportedly eager to attend the match and watch their idol play.