Tickets for an Israel-Argentina friendly in Jerusalem next month with Barcelona star Lionel Messi expected in the line-up sold out within 20 minutes, the Israeli company handling sales said.
The Le’an agency said on its website that nearly 100,000 fans applied for 20,000 tickets when they went on general sale Sunday evening.
“No sporting event has ever caused such hysteria in Israel,” it wrote.
Prices ranged from 44 shekels (about $12, 10 euros) for children and soldiers to 825 shekels in the VIP area.
Another 5,000 places went to supporters of the Israeli national team in a pre-sale reserved for them and over 4,000 tickets were to be distributed to children from needy families.
The game will take place on June 9 at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem which has a capacity of 31,733 seats.
Palestinians, predictably, are freaking out, especially since the game is being played in Jerusalem.
The Fatah movement called on the Argentine government and people to cancel their friendly match with the team of the occupying state in Jerusalem, saying that conducting this match in the occupation state and in Jerusalem specifically is an attack on the rights of the Palestinian people, meant to mislead international public opinion, and exploit the sport and this game in particular in order to break the law and international legitimacy for the oppression and oppression of the Palestinian people.
A member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council and its official spokesman Osama al-Qawasmi said in a press statement that Israel is exploiting a noble sport. One of [football]’s goals is to build bridges of love, peace and communication among the peoples of the earth, but Israel is turning it into racist political goals and to persecute others and create hatred. In Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state, we are recalling that the blood of our children, our young men and women in Gaza whose blood has not yet dried up as a result of Israeli bullets, backed by an unjust American decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
:If Argentina win the World Cup this summer, Israel can take some of the credit.
The Argentinian players — Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero et al — are due in Jerusalem on June 9 to play a friendly match in the Teddy Stadium, seven days before they kick off in their first match in the World Cup finals against Iceland in Moscow.
Many of the players are devout Catholics who believe that the opportunity to pray in Jerusalem will boost their World Cup chances.
Pope Francis, an enthusiastic fan of the Argentinean team, will reportedly send a personal emissary to conduct a special mass for the team in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Messi, the team captain, is in no doubt about how important the trip could be. He said: “I really want to visit the Holy Land and for Argentina this will be an important professional and spiritual journey and I’m convinced that coming to Israel ahead of the World Cup will do us good.”
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