Argentina-Israel Friendly Suspended After Protests Against Jerusalem Match

Published June 5th, 2018 - 09:36 GMT
 Concerns over security have been cited as the reason for the late cancellation, which threatens to leave Argentina's World Cup preparations in chaos
Concerns over security have been cited as the reason for the late cancellation, which threatens to leave Argentina's World Cup preparations in chaos

Argentina's controversial friendly against Israel has been suspended after the match scheduled in Jerusalem provoked waves of protest, according to multiple reports.

According to sources close to the Argentine FA, consulted by the NA agency, concerns over player and fan security for the game that was to be played on Saturday led to its cancellation, while a trip that would also have seen Argentina's stars visit landmarks like the Western Wall has also been scrapped.

The Seleccion had just two warm-up matches arranged before travelling to the finals in Russia.

A Lionel Messi hat-trick saw the nation past Haiti last week in a 4-0 win, before the squad travelled to Barcelona for a training camp prior to the trip to Israel.

The game, however, coming after a brutal crackdown on protests in Jerusalem after the United States moved its embassy to the disputed capital, was the focus for huge criticism from Palestinian and human rights groups.

Palestinian FA chief Jibril Rajoub even went as far as to say fans should burn shirts with Lionel Messi's name on the back to protest the staging of the fixture.

Argentina's training session in Barcelona on Tuesday was also accompanied by demonstrations, with protesters daubing Albiceleste shirts in 'blood'.

The decision now leaves Jorge Sampaoli's men in a quandary, with precious little time to arrange a new friendly prior to the start of the World Cup.

Iceland await the South Americans in their first game of Group D on June 16, with Croatia and Nigeria completing the list of first-round opponents.

By Daniel Edwards


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