The Italian Embassy in Tel-Aviv has retweeted words of support to Israel over a scrapped Argentina match from the country’s newly appointed deputy prime minister and interior minister, Matteo Salvini. The leader of the right-wing Lega Nord party, who was sworn in on June 2, encouraged the Israeli culture and sport minister.
Vice Premier and Minister of Interior @matteosalvinimi expressed "solidarity to the Israeli colleague Minister of Culture and Sport @regev_miri, because it is not possible that hatred, threats and violence could block even a peaceful sport event". ⚽️ #Israele #Argentina— Italy in Israel (@ItalyinIsrael) 6 июня 2018 г.
This split commentators on Twitter. While some support the move, others prefer to distance themselves from Salvini’s statement.
🙏🏻bravo👏👏👏👏👏— Pamela C (@Pammyreign) 7 июня 2018 г.
Vice Premier and Minister of Interior @matteosalvinimi, the Prophet of Solidarity and Peaceful.— Leonard Shelby (@LeonardDicirene) 7 июня 2018 г.
Once more, very proud of him 🙂 Am Israel chai!— Brunella (@breone60) 7 июня 2018 г.
The people of Italy support Palestine. Their collective voices are a thousand times stronger than the puppet.— mikealpha (@mikealpha00) 7 июня 2018 г.
Please — Minister of Interior @matteosalvinimi, ask yourself why #LeoMessi &co decided not to take part in this match. Maybe you’ll be finding some answers you were looking for. Solidarity with #ArgentinaNoVayas and #TheStateOfPalestine— MattiaCutolo (@MattiaCutolo) 7 июня 2018 г.
The match between Israel and Argentina was to take place in Jerusalem on June 9 in a friendly warm up pre-World Cup game, but the Argentinians were forced to pull out due to reasons of “health, personal safety and the safety of the entire delegation,” according to the head of the Argentine Football Association, Claudio Tapia.
Regev, who prior to the cancellation boasted that Messi would “kiss the Western Wall” and “shake hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” according to The Washington Post, stated that Argentina’s decision was “down to one reason, terrorism.”
However, Israeli opposition MKs said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev were to blame for the escalation of tensions and eventual cancellation of the anticipated football event. The president of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, also argued that the official politicized the game, which is supposed to be free of politics.
The cancellation was proceeded with BDS protests at the team’s training site in Barcelona and calls from the Palestinian Football Association “to burn their Messi shirts and pictures and renounce him” if the match takes place.
The cancellation triggered an uproar on social media, as some slammed the threats made toward the sports figures.
The Argentina-Israel soccer match was canceled because the players' families received death threats.— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) 6 июня 2018 г.
This is how hateful and vile those Palestinian activists are — to threat to kill families. #ArgentinaNotGoing #argentinaisrael pic.twitter.com/R2xGkuegBX
#Palestinians to #Argentina before cancelation of friendly match:— Vaiga Ramanath Iyyer (@VRIyyer) 7 июня 2018 г.
"We will harm you and your families if you play in Israel."
Palestinians to #Argentina after cancelation: "From Palestine, thank you Messi for humanity and solidarity".
Game of #Threatening
The Jerusalem soccer match between Israel and Argentina was canceled because of terrorism threats against soccer superstar Lionel Messi his family. Arab terrorism yet the #ALP and #greens continue to support them— Graham Coates (@GrahamRCoates) 6 июня 2018 г.
Others praised the Argentinians for the decision, which some commentators viewed as a protest against Israeli actions.
Argentina calling off their friendly in Israel is the right decision. It was wrong choosing to play there in the first place. As Lionel Messi stated, "I am a human before a footballer." It's overwhelming to see how players have responded to this verdict.— Javed Afridi (@JAfridi10) 6 июня 2018 г.
👌 Cheers Argentina You have stood up for Palestinians Who Get Brutalised by Israel on a daily Basis/The World FA should stand with you 👍,— Ken mck (@kenmckelvey224) 6 июня 2018 г.
Some will say “won’t make a difference” regarding Argentina cancelling friendly V Israel. Not true, if even one person asks “why would Messi do that what’s going on there so bad” then something positive has been achieved.— Rachel Lynch (@Rachel_Lynchx) 6 июня 2018 г.
Respect and thanks to Argentina for canceling soccer match in Israel There is nothing friendly about apartheid.— Ariel Gold 🔥 (@ArielElyseGold) 6 июня 2018 г.
In the wake of the scandal, Regev also fueled debates around another major international event, which Israel is to host next year: the Eurovision song contest. She contended that Israel would pass on hosting the competition if it is not held in Jerusalem for political reasons.
“It will cost Israel NIS 50 million ($14 million) and is designed to market the country,” she said. “So I personally say, if the Eurovision won’t be held in Jerusalem, it’s not right to invest the NIS 50 million in public funds,” she told the Israeli broadcaster Kan, stating that the Israeli capital is Jerusalem.