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Palestinians threaten to disrupt Argentina’s World Cup bid for playing Israel

Protesting Argentina’s upcoming friendly soccer game against Israel, the Palestinians are threatening to torpedo the Latin American country’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

“It is with regret that we hereby declare that, should the Argentinian National team continue its plans to play in Jerusalem, we will launch a worldwide campaign to question Argentina’s eligibility to host the FIFA World Cup 2030,” the Palestinian Football Association says in a statement.

The Argentine squad, led by its superstar striker Lionel Messi, are set to play Israel on Saturday evening in the capital’s Teddy stadium. It is the team’s last match before the World Cup in Russia starting later this month.

Argentina, a two-time world champion and again a contender to win the cup this summer, has confirmed its bid to host the 2030 tournament, together with Paraguay and Uruguay.

“The Palestinian Football Family calls upon the Argentinian Football association, and the Argentinian national team, to refrain from being used, by politicians in the Israeli Government, as a tool to normalize the illegal annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem, and to whitewash the Israeli systematic violations of international law and human rights,” the statement reads.

By agreeing to play “in the occupied city of Jerusalem,” Argentina risks being considered “unworthy” of hosting the 2030 World Cup, the statement says.

The fact that the friendly follows much international condemnation of the US’s December 6, 2017, decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “will undoubtedly send a message that the stars of Argentina are lending legitimacy to the illegal actions of an occupation that systematically abuses the human rights of around 5 million Palestinians struggling under its yoke,” the statement reads.

— Raphael Ahren

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