PRESS STATEMENT: Argentina cancels World Cup warm up match with Israel

06 June 2018

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation, BDS South Africa, joins Palestinians, our progressive Jewish Israeli allies, fellow South Africans and peace loving peoples of the world in welcoming the cancellation by the Argentinian football team, led by Barcelona FC’s Lionel Messi, of their World Cup warm-up match with Israel. Argentinian player, Gonzalo “El Pipa” Higuaín, who is also a striker for the Italian football-club Juventus, told ESPN: “the right thing was not to go to Israel.” As a people who experienced Apartheid, we agree – no normal sport with an abnormal regime!

The cancellation follows calls from Palestinian Minister of Sport and the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibiril Rajoub, the international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement and thousands of Palestinian football fans. Palestinian footballer, Mahmoud Obeid, who was recently shot by Israeli snipers in both of his knees (ending a promising football career) was one of the many Palestinians who participated in the campaign (click here for a video Obeid’s appeal to Lionel Messi and the Argentinian Football Club).

We salute BDS Argentina, BDS counterparts in Spain and those from across the world who called on and rallied against the match. The game was scheduled to take place this coming weekend at Israel’s Teddy stadium – a stadium built on the ruins of an Israeli-destroyed Palestinian village.

This boycott victory comes amid a wave of new support for BDS since Israel’s killing of more than 110 Palestinians in Gaza. This includes cancellations of Israeli events by Hollywood’s Natalie Portman, musician Shakira, Brazilian artist Gilberto Gil and Portugal’s national theatre director Tiago Rodrigues. In addition several UK bands have proactively endorsed the BDS cultural boycott of Israel. The South African government has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv “until futher notice”.

Messi has previously expressed support for the Palestinian cause. In 2014, the then UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, shared on his Facebook a picture of an injured Palestinian child and pleaded for the violence to stop (click here).


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