Mere days before the World Cup hype commences, Argentina dealt a blow to Israel’s image by canceling a scheduled friendly match which would have been played in Jerusalem. The Israeli government reportedly had agreed to pay $3 million to the team on the condition that Lionel Messi plays in the match.
The plan backfired spectacularly. Following intense pressure from activists globally, including the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions Movement (BDS), Israel was left playing a solitary card to barely any spectators, let alone participants, in its farce.
One main contention about the football match, was the decision to hold the event in Jerusalem rather than Haifa, as was originally planned. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev have both attempted to deflect responsibility for the decision on each other. A letter published by the Times of Israel depicts Netanyahu’s signature on a letter to Argentine President Mauricio Macri instructing, as early as March 12, 2018, that the match would be played in Jerusalem.
News reports are now stating that COMTEC — the company that was responsible for planning the football match, in concordance with the Israeli Football Association (IFA) — are asking FIFA to ban Argentina from the forthcoming World Cup on grounds of purported “Jewish discrimination”. Israel’s claims are unlikely to gain any traction — the Argentinian football team has clearly stated its reasons for refusing to play in Jerusalem, while Israel has, on this occasion, failed in attempting to salvage its propaganda and image. Read more.