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Internationals

Palestinian FA urges fans to burn Messi jerseys if he plays against Israel

In a World Cup warm-up match, Argentina will play against Israel at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium on 9 June.

Update:
Palestinian FA demand fans burn Messi jerseys
GUSTAVO ORTIZDIARIO AS

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) boss Jibril Rajoub called on Arab and Muslim football fans to burn photos and jerseys of Lionel Messi if he attends a friendly match between Argentina and Israel next weekend.

‘Messi is a symbol of peace and love,’ Rajoub said. ‘We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation.’

Messi, he added, ‘has tens of millions of fans in the Arab and Muslim countries... we ask everyone to burn their shirts which bear his name and posters (with his image).’

The South Americans will play a World Cup warm-up match at Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium on 9 June.

All the 20,000 tickets for the friendly sold out in just 20 minutes, the company in charge of the sales said.

Football match "serving as a political tool"

Regarding the friendly, Rajoub wrote to Claudio Tapia, the chief of the Argentinian FA, accusing Israel of using the match as a ‘political tool’ and urging them to cancel the encounter.

‘The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool. As was widely covered in Argentinian media, the match now is being played in order to celebrate the ‘70th anniversary of the State of Israel’,’ part of Rajoub’s letter said.

The game was originally slated to be played in Haifa, however, Israeli authorities moved it to Jerusalem following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.

According to Rajoub, holding the match ‘sends a dangerous message to the Israeli government that the world is ignoring its gross violations of human rights.’

On Sunday, a small group of youths wearing Palestine football scarves protested outside Argentina’s representation office in the West Bank town of Ramallah and attempted to set an Argentinian flag on fire.

The head of the PFA has long demanded sanctions against Israel, which has six league teams based in occupied Palestinian territory.

For the World Cup, Messi’s men have been drawn with Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in Group D, starting against Iceland on 21 June.

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