Argentina cancel final World Cup warm up game against Israel

Argentina have cancelled their final World Cup warm-up match against Israel, striker Gonzalo Higuaín said on Tuesday, as political pressure grew before Saturday's scheduled fixture in Jerusalem.

The match, which was Argentina's final game before the Russia World Cup 2018, was set to be played on Saturday at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem al-Quds amid worldwide anger over a decision by the U.S. to recognize the occupied Palestinian city as Israel's "capital".

"I call on the Argentinian team and especially captain Lionel Messi - because he is very popular in Palestine, particularly in the Gaza Strip - to stand in solidarity with Palestinians and to boycott the scheduled game with Israel, which is occupying our land", Khalil said.

Although there is nothing official as of yet, Spanish outlet "Ole" are reporting that the friendly will not be held, and Argentina will not travel to Israel.

"I grew up with them and they have taught me many things". Reports said that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had called the Argentinian president, Mauricio Macri, to ask him to persuade the team not to cancel their visit.

"This match has become a political tool". Last week, MK Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, met with Argentina's ambassador to Israel and asked for the game to be cancelled.

"But that's the way it is, we have to travel on the day before the match, play Israel in Israel and then from there go on to Russian Federation".

Jorge Sampaoli's men will face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D in Russian Federation and while Messi admitted Argentina - runners-up in 2014 - were below the level of the favourites, he hopes they can deliver at the showpiece tournament.

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

On Sunday he called for Palestinians to burn replica shirts and pictures of Messi.

Palestinians are outraged at US President Donald Trump's decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, breaking with decades of policy, and move his country's embassy there. Stating it's impossible to enjoy games when millions of Palestinians don't enjoy "human rights" Odeh said that "there is only one way to win, ending the occupation and having a real peace treaty, which is still possible".

  • Rosalie Stanley