Argentine FA chief apologizes to Israel for cancelling match
The president of the Argentine Football Association, Claudio Tapia, has apologized for pulling out of a pre-World Cup friendly game against Israel which was set to take place in Jerusalem on Saturday.
“I would like to apologize to all the Argentinian people who live in the Israeli community, to all the Israelis who bought tickets so quickly to see the Argentinian team,” said Tapia during a press conference in Barcelona on Wednesday.
“My responsibility as president of the Argentinian Football Association is to fight for the health and physical integrity of all the delegation and, in my role, I made this decision. So I simply apologize to the Israeli community. [This was] nothing against the Israeli community, it is nothing against the Jewish community, rather the opposite, and I think and I would like that, from this moment, everyone considers my decision as a contribution to world peace,” he added.
The game was called off under pressure from Palestinian activists who staged protests near the prospective venue in West Jerusalem, accusing the Argentinian squad of "whitewashing Israeli occupation."
Last week, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, called on the Muslim community to “burn their shirts” which bear the name of Argentinian idol Lionel Messi if the team didn’t cancel the game in Israel.
On Tuesday, the Argentinian side officially confirmed their players wouldn’t take part in the World Cup warm-up in Israel, sparking anger from Israeli football officials who said they would file a complaint with FIFA against the Palestinian FA.
The vice-president of the Israeli Football Association, Rotem Kamer, accused the Palestinian football officials of "football terror" insisting they had pressured the Argentinian side to cancel the friendly.
“We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president," he said. "We are seeing it as crossing a red line and we cannot accept it.
"We are going to send an official complaint to FIFA and the disciplinary committee to take action," he added.