Palestine FA: Burn Messi's shirts if he plays in Israel
The Palestine Football Association chief, on Sunday, urged fans to burn pictures and replica t-shirts of Argentine ace Lionel Messi if he plays against Israel next weekend. Argentina is slated to play against Israel next Saturday in pre-World Cup warm-up match. The request comes after a spate of violence rocked Gaza ahead of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
The scheduled Israel-Argentina match at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in Jerusalem next weekend has attracted huge attention in Israel, especially over the planned participation of ace striker Lionel Messi. However, Palestinian FA chief Jibril Rajoub wrote to Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentinian FA, accusing Israel of deliberately hosting the match in Jerusalem so as to use it as a "political tool".
"The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool. As was widely covered in Argentinian media, the match now is being played in order to celebrate the '70th anniversary of the State of Israel'," said Rajoub in his letter.
It would seem that the Palestine FA chief's concerns aren't completely baseless. The much-awaited match was originally scheduled to be played in the city of Haifa in Israel, but Israeli authorities pumped in funds for it to be moved to Jerusalem. The move, understandably irked Palestinians, who have been rather inflamed ever since President Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Following Rajoub's request to fans, a small group of Palestinian youths protested outside the representation office and attempted to burn an Argentinian flag. For a while now, Rajoub has been trying to get FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel, owing to Israel's settlement policy in the West Bank, and its imposition of travel restrictions on Palestinian athletes.