The Argentina newspaper La Nacion has covered the story about their team planning to play in Israel and how they changed their minds – and it is pretty clear that the death threats against the players, primarily Messi, is what caused the country to cave.
A noisy but small protest outside where the players were practicing was the subject ofa story on Tuesday, before the decision. Bloody team jerseys and loud horns dominated the protest that the players could hear. The paper pointed out that some of the protesters were Muslim.
The bloody shirts were an obvious threat.
The foreign ministry came out with a statement after the Argentina Football Association made its decision, distancing itself from the decision, but mentioning the threats:
“It is always the fact that it is not good when a sporting event awakens a situation of animosity….the players of the selection faced a series of threats that came by way of Internet giving them a negative image by the fact that they were to play in Israel, they have felt restless and therefore they preferred not to do this match… It is not good whenever a decision arises from threats or a situation of discomfort”.
An op-ed writer, Gabriel Chocron, was more explicit:
A political leader thirsty for publicity managed to turn this sports party into a victory for fear, threats and terrorism. Jibril Rajoub, current president of the Palestinian Football Federation, unscrupulously threatened Argentine players – and Lionel Messi in particular – that they would become enemies of Muslims around the world for participating in the friendly against Israel. Rajoub drove a sad campaign of intimidation and threats to the players and their families, to the point that they felt fear for their physical integrity.
Chocron ends off with:
Beyond the opinion that each one may have in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the cancellation of this party is a victory for hatred, fear and terrorism. The World Cup has not started yet, but the Argentine national team has already lost its first points.
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