Palestinian soccer chief urges fans to burn Messi posters if he plays in Israel
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Palestinian soccer chief urges fans to burn Messi posters if he plays in Israel

Jibril Rajoub calls on the Argentinian star and his team not to take part in a friendly game in Jerusalem next weekend

Lionel Messi of Argentina leaves the field during the Brazil Global Tour match between Brazil and Argentina at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 9, 2017, in Melbourne, Australia. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via JTA)
Lionel Messi of Argentina leaves the field during the Brazil Global Tour match between Brazil and Argentina at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 9, 2017, in Melbourne, Australia. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via JTA)

The head of the Palestinian football federation called on Arab and Muslim sports fans to burn photos and T-shirts of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, if he attends a friendly match between Argentina and Israel next weekend.

Jibril Rajoub made the call after a demonstration in front of the Argentinian representative office in Ramallah, where he asked Argentina to cancel the match.

The friendly game will take place on June 9, at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, just one week before Argentina’s first match in the World Cup against Iceland, on June 16, in Moscow.

“Messi. Don’t come. Don’t whitewash the face of racism,” Rajoub said.

President of the Palestinian Football Federation Jibril Rajoub, during a press conference, on June 9, 2015. (Mohamed Farraj / Wafa)

Israel’s football federation said Messi was expected to play at next week’s match.

On Friday, Arab Israeli MK Yousef Jabarin urged Argentina to cancel the match, citing Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

Holding the match, he said in a letter to the Argentinian ambassador to Israel, “sends a dangerous message to the Israeli government that the world is ignoring its gross violations of human rights.”

Jabarin, of the Joint (Arab) List said Argentina’s star player Lionel Messi “cannot turn his back on Palestinian victims.”

Joint List MK Yousef Jabarin attends a Knesset committee meeting on December 22, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He added: “I really hope the relevant bodies in Argentina will reevaluate holding the match as planned.”

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel has run a campaign to stop the match, including sending letters to Argentine sports figures.

All 20,000 tickets for the friendly in Jerusalem sold out in 20 minutes, the company handling the sales said.

Violent demonstrations on the Gaza border have become a regular Friday occurrence since March 30, when the Palestinians held their first weekly “March of Return” protest. Israel says the riots are orchestrated by the Hamas terror group, which rules Gaza, and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 120 Gazans have been killed since the protests began.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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