Tickets for Messi appearance in Jerusalem sell out in 20 minutes
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'No sporting event has ever caused such hysteria in Israel'

Tickets for Messi appearance in Jerusalem sell out in 20 minutes

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis try to reserve a spot at friendly soccer match against Argentina next month

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)

Tickets for an Israel-Argentina friendly soccer match in Jerusalem next month with Barcelona star Lionel Messi expected in the line-up sold out within 20 minutes, the Israeli company handling sales said.

The Le’an agency said on its website that nearly 100,000 fans applied for 20,000 tickets when they went on general sale Sunday evening.

“No sporting event has ever caused such hysteria in Israel,” it wrote.

Prices ranged from NIS 44 (about $12) for children and soldiers to NIS 825 ($230) in the VIP area.

Another 5,000 places went to supporters of the Israeli national team, who subscribed to its games in the World Cup preliminaries, in a pre-sale reserved for them. Over 4,000 tickets were to be distributed to children from needy families.

The game will take place on June 9 at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, which has a capacity of 31,733 seats.

Illustrative: Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium during an international soccer match, on October 10, 2015. (Flash90/File)

On social media networks, tickets were being resold for up to NIS 4,500 on Monday.

Argentina will play against Haiti on May 29 and then Israel, just one week before their first match in the World Cup against Iceland, on June 16, in Moscow.

In Group D, Messi’s men will face Croatia on June 21, and Nigeria on June 26.

Israel finished fourth in Group 7 in qualifying for the World Cup, behind Spain, Italy and Albania.

It last qualified in 1970.

In the past, Argentina has played Israel several times in friendly matches, usually before the World Cup, suffering a 1-2 defeat in 1998, but crushing the Israelis 7-2 in 1990, with Diego Maradona at the helm.

The June 9 game will start after dark so that observant Jews can reach the stadium or watch it on TV without violating the Shabbat.

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