The Palestine FA has threatened that shirts of Lionel Messi will be burned if the world cup warm-up match between Israel and Argentina takes place in Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium on Saturday night.
The Palestine FA chief, Jibril Rajoub, wrote to Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentinian FA, last week accusing Israel of using the match as a “political tool”.
Part of the letter says:
“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’,” .
Rajoub declared a campaign against Argentina and particularly Messi, noting he has millions of fans across the Arab and Islamic world, Asia and Africa.
“He’s a big symbol so we are going to target him personally and we call on all to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him. We still hope that Messi will not come,” Rajoub told reporters as he left the Argentinian representative’s office in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Reports have it that the match was originally slated to be played in Haifa but Israeli authorities contributed funds for it to be moved to Jerusalem. This move is said to have angered Palestines further.