The Israeli government suffered an extreme loss because of the Argentina-Israel friendly soccer match.
Even before Argentina’s Soccer Association formally announced the cancellation of the Israel-Argentina friendly soccer match, Israel suffered international shame and Palestinians rejoiced with their supporters around the globe.
Israeli soccer fans are now shocked and dismayed. The cancellation crushed their hope to meet-and-greet the renowned soccer striker Lionel Messi on home turf. Also, they will now have to look for a ticket, hotel, and vacation refunds. In the heart of the fiasco is Israel’s Minister for Culture and port, MP Miri Regev. The Ma’ariv online news website quoted PM Netanyahu saying “moving on, folks” when responding to the cancellation. However, MP Regev will still need to explain why the Ministry had invested millions of tax-payer shekels in relocating the game from Haifa to Jerusalem at the last minute.
Palestinians cheered all over the internet. Ahed Tamimi’s family twitted thanks to Messi himself, saying he struck a goal “for justice, freedom, and equality.” Jibril Rajoub, the reformed militant who now heads the Palestinian Football Association, said in a press conference that the Palestinians “will not forget” the decision to boycott Israeli soccer.
With the likelihood that several factors led to the Argentinian decision rather than a personal whim of one person, three main questions come to mind:
- The match was intended to take place in Haifa, a city of Israeli-Arab-Christian co-existence. Why was the match location altered to Jerusalem by the Ministry of Culture and Sport?
2. The formal Israeli response to the cancellation rumors and announcement was panicky and inappropriate, accusing the Palestinians of “sports terror.” Why was there no tactical plan in place to minimize the colossal embarrassment that could be caused by a potential Argentinian cancellation?
3. A Hebrew YNET article quoted the founders of the non-profit Hagshamat Chalom (“Materializing a Dream”) that the cancellation will cause severe disappointment to tens of treated children scheduled to meet their soccer idol. Who will fly the children to meet with Messi in Barcelona, as was informally suggested?