Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has said that Lionel Messi and his Argentine team’s draw to Iceland in the 2018 FIFA world cup in Russia is as a result of the team boycotting a friendly game with Israel which would have held in Jerusalem few days to the kick off of the world cup.
Argentina drew 1-1 to world cup first timers Iceland with Lionel Messi throwing away an opportunity to put his team in front when a penalty he played was saved by Iceland goalkeeper, Hannes Thor Halldorsson, who emerged man of the match.
Tweeting about Messi’s loss, Avigdor Liberman said,
”Argentina’s game in front of Iceland see how much missing a workout game in front of Israel. Mount Iceland, a small country, 350,000 residents with a huge team.”
An Arab Israeli lawmaker, Ahmed Tibi also linked the miss to the withdrawal from the Israel game, tweeting a poll asking,
“Who was happier that Messi missed his penalty today?”
The Albeceleste of Argentina pulled out of its final pre-World Cup warm up game with Israel due to pressure, threats and intense protests from the Palestinians after Israel decided to move the game to Jerusalem from Haifa, where it was originally to have been staged.
Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian soccer federation, said that the match was politicized after Israel decided to hold the match in Jerusalem. He urged Arab and Muslim sports fans to burn photos and T-shirts of star player Lionel Messi if the game went ahead.