An article by Ben Lynfield in The Independent framed Argentina’s decision to cancel a football match against Israel as a BDS win for the Palestinians, and blamed the cancellation on Israel’s “politicization of the event” by moving the match from Haifa to Jerusalem .
However, Lynfield misled readers in his piece (Israel scores own goal as Argentina match cancelled in victory for Palestinians, June 7th) by suggesting that only Israeli officials were claiming that the match was cancelled due to threats against Argentina’s superstar striker Lionel Messi.
…the Israeli embassy in Argentina announced the “suspension” of the game due, it said, to “threats and provocations” against Messi.
[Israeli Sports Minister] Regev blamed Argentina’s decision on “terror groups that began sending messages to players and their families with clear threats to harm their lives and those of their children. Among other things, films and pictures of children’s bodies were sent to the players.”
Lynfield also quoted a prominent BDS activist denying that threats had anything to do with the cancellation, framing claims over the threats made to Messi as a ‘he said, she said’ issue.
However, the Indy reporter failed to note that, according to a reports in AP (and other media outlets) a day before the Indy piece was published, Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, was quite clear that the match was cancelled due to threats against Messi and other players.
Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, is apologizing for cancelling a friendly match with Israel in Jerusalem, claiming the safety of the players was at stake.
Israel’s headline-seeking sports minister faced a barrage of criticism after Argentina called off the World Cup warmup because of pro-Palestinian protests.
“What has happened in the last 72 hours, the actions, the threats that have occurred have led us to take the decision not to travel,” said Tapia during a news conference in Barcelona, where the Argentine team is training prior to the start of the World Cup next week.
“(We) apologize. It’s nothing against the Israeli community, the Jewish community and I would like everyone to take this decision as a contribution to world peace,” he added.
Another senior official at the Argentine Football Federation told AP that threats to the national team from Hamas was also a contributing factor to cancel the match, and the Argentine media had widely reported that the reason for the cancellation was a series of threats made against Messi and his wife.
Moreover, Tapia also left open the possibility of a future match in Israel – more evidence undermining the claim that the national team’s decision was due to pressure from BDS.
It seems that what the Indy’s Lynfield sold to readers as a BDS victory was, in actuality, a ‘victory’ for the Palestinian culture of terror, threats and intimidation.