JERUSALEM: The Israeli and Palestinian football associations traded accusations Wednesday over the cancellation of a World Cup warm-up match between the Jewish state and Argentina in the disputed city of Jerusalem.
Israel accused the Palestinians of “football terror,” saying their threats saw Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and his team abandon what would have been Argentina’s final friendly match ahead of the World Cup.
The Palestinians rejected the allegation, saying the Argentinians pulled out of the match as they realised Israel was using their presence for political gain.
The encounter was called off on Tuesday after a campaign by the Palestinians following its relocation to Jerusalem.
“We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president (Jibril Rajoub),” said Rotem Kamer of the Israel Football Association.
He accused them of threatening players and their families, without providing any evidence.
“We are seeing it as crossing a red line and we cannot accept it,” Kamer said, adding an official complaint would be sent to world football’s governing body FIFA.
The sold-out game in Jerusalem was hotly opposed by Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city, occupied and later annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.
It had originally been scheduled to take place the northern Israeli city of Haifa but was moved after pressure from Israel’s hardline sports minister, Miri Regev.
Palestinians were already angered by US President Donald Trump’s transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, which sparked protests in Gaza in which dozens of Palestinians were killed.—AFP