Argentina has reportedly cancelled a World Cup warm-up match against Israel under political pressure over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain told the ESPN sports channel on Tuesday the game had been cancelled. “They’ve finally done the right thing,” Higuain said in an interview. Argentine media also reported the cancellation. There was no official statement from the Israeli football association.
Media reports said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had called Argentine President Mauricio Macri in an attempt to salvage the friendly tie, due to be played in Jerusalem on Saturday. The news was met with cheers in Gaza, where at least 120 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during recent protests. In Ramallah in the West Bank, the Palestinian football association issued a statement thanking Argentine striker Lionel Messi and his colleagues for the cancellation.
“Values, morals and sport have secured a victory today and a red card was raised at Israel through the cancellation of the game,” said chairman Jibril Rajoub, quoted by Reuters news agency.