Tel Aviv (AP) – Despite recent riots in the Gaza Strip, world footballer Lionel Messi arrived in Israel with the Argentine national team on Sunday.
The Starensemble denies on Monday in Tel Aviv a controversial test match against the South American rival Uruguay. The game had been in the past few days before the refusal after it came again to clashes between the Israeli military and the Palestinians.
Even before the 2018 World Cup Messi should contest with the Argentine selection a test match in Jerusalem. But after fierce protests and threats, the South Americans had canceled the game. The president of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Radschub, had even called on fans to burn jerseys and posters by and with Messi if he played in Jerusalem. Radschub was blocked for the World Football Association for one year.
This time, the Messi appearance in Tel Aviv will take place. The stadium is already sold out with 30,000 spectators. But in recent days, there has been an escalation of violence in the Middle East. Israeli warplanes had attacked Islamic Jihad targets, among other things. This was preceded by renewed rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Israel and the Islamic Jihad had agreed on a ceasefire on Thursday, mediated by Egypt and the United Nations.