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Supposed anti-Israel Messi quote debunked as fake

08 June 2018

In addition to his efforts to expel Israel from FIFA, Rajoub has a long record of anti-Israel rhetoric, including naming sporting tournaments in honor of terrorists, regularly comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, and calling a football match between Israeli and Palestinian children "a crime against humanity". But it wasn't about the location or politics, she said.

The World Cup warm-up match was meant to be played on Saturday in the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem after Israel relocated the event from the national stadium in Haifa.

Argentina begins its first World Cup game in Russian Federation against Iceland on June 16.

The Palestinian Football Association opposed the game from the start, and blamed Regev for the move to Jerusalem and what they called the ensuing "disaster".

(Some pro-Palestinian activists had been waving bloody shirts at a peaceful demonstration in Barcelona, where the Argentine team is fine-tuning before Russian Federation.).

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Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev claimed on Wednesday that "the initiative to come to Jerusalem was Messi's, that was his desire".

Rajoub's gambit was another facet of the Palestinian Authority's escalating efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel in bodies like the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court-politicizing organizations that could theoretically serve a noble goal if they weren't so consumed with anti-Israel animus.

But Israel says the campaign goes beyond Israeli occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians and masks a deeper aim of delegitimising or even destroying the country. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeted the Argentinian team through its branch in the South American country.

Jibril Rajoub leads the Palestinian football association. So I'm saying to the Israeli Right and to Regev: "This is what you deserve". Rajoub spoke at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah next to a picture of himself and Messi with the caption "From Palestine, thank you Messi".

Hamadeh Freij, a journalist in Gaza, said that people in the besieged territory were excited about the decision and that the issue dominated discussions during iftar.

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Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, apologised for cancelling the match but said the safety of the players was at stake.

On Wednesday, Rajoub thanked the Argentines for "following their conscience".

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli last week aired misgivings about having his players make the trip to Israel, noting he preferred to remain in Barcelona.

"An Argentine government official told the Times that "(Argentine president Mauricio) Macri apologized to (Benjamin) Netanyahu but said if the players don't want to go there was nothing he could do".

Late Wednesday, Israel's Sports Ministry said that a "negotiation" about the match was underway, but gave no other details. He added that he hoped "everyone will take this decision as a contribution to peace".

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Supposed anti-Israel Messi quote debunked as fake