Argentina friendly called off after Palestinian 'threats, provocations'

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The match in Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium was to be Argentina's final game before they kick off their World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16 in Russian Federation.

Ahead of the demonstration meeting at Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium the Palestine Football Association chief Jibril Rajoub urged fans on to burn pictures of Messi and replicas of his shirt if he played in the game.

Rajoub, in a letter last week, accused Israel of using the friendly as a "political tool", and even threatened to campaign against Argentina's bid to host the World Cup in 2030 had the game taken place.

The Argentina Football Association did not immediately comment on the reports.

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"I hope Argentinian national team will not yield to terrorism", said Culture Minister Miri Regev after learning that soccer players on the Argentinian national team were sent threatening images and death-threats should they decide to play in the Israeli capital this Saturday.

"I congratulate Palestine at such a great sport victory and the tough blow to the occupation", Abdel-Salam Haniyeh, member of the Palestinian higher council of youth and sport, wrote on Facebook after news of the cancellation broke.

Lebanon based television channel Al Mayadeen tweeted that the head of the Palestinian Federation in South America stated that the pressure to cancel the game with Israel came from Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and team coach Jorge Sampaoli.

"The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem".

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Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the global community views the city's eastern sector as an occupied territory and Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state.

Palestinians claim the eastern part of Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

The embassy opened on May 14, fanning Palestinian anger and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with Israeli forces killing dozens at least 61 Gazans that day.

PFA president Rajoub also sent a letter to Argentina's government asking that the football match not include superstar Lionel Messi.

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"I don't consider myself the best, I think I am just another player.On the field, we are all the same when the game begins", Messi said. On Tuesday, a group of Catalan pro-Palestinian protesters called out the names of the players and asked them not to participate in the "cover-up" of a social conflict.

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