Argentina cancel friendly in Israel amid protests officials say

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The Argentina versus Israel friendly match scheduled for this weekend has sparked a wave of criticisms in pro-Palestine circles, with Palestinian fans and footballing authorities demanding that the match be called off.

The game, scheduled to be held at Teddy Stadium, located in the western part of the city, drew furious reactions from the Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

However, the Israeli embassy in Argentina blamed what it called "threats and provocations" against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Palestinian FA chief Jibril Rajoub had helped spark the controversy with his claims that fans should burn Messi photos and shirts if the Argentina star faced Israel in Jerusalem.

The South American side's coach, Jorge Sampaoli, had aired grievances about having to travel to Israel, noting he would have preferred to remain in Spain, where the team is holding its pre-World Cup training camp.

Per reports coming out of the media in Argentina, the game between Argentina and Israel has been canceled.

He added: "We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation".

With his preparations for the World Cup in Russian Federation well underway, Lionel Messi has given an interview to Paper Magazine, for which he strangely posed with a goat in the photoshoot.

Rajoub had accused Israel of using the match as a political tool and now the clash has been cancelled.

The two-times World Cup winners face Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia in what is considered to be one of the hardest groups in the tournament.

Palestinians hailed the cancellation as a victory.

Khalil was shot by Israeli snipers on March 30, during the first Friday protests of Palestinians demonstrating east of Gaza, demanding their right to return.

"He's a big symbol so we are going to target him personally and we call on all to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him", Rajoub said after leaving the Argentinian representative office in Ramallah. Israel regards Jerusalem as its "eternal and undivided" capital.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the United States embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.