Lionel Messi and the Argentine National Soccer Team arrived in Israel Sunday evening ahead of a friendly match against Uruguay, nearly 18 months after his side cancelled a match against Israel in Jerusalem due to pressures from pro-Palestinian organizations.
A live webcast showed the team disembarking from their flight at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, and boarding a team bus on the tarmac, without speaking to cameramen.
Fans welcoming the Argentine National Team at Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Nadav Zenziper)
The two South American giants will face off on Monday evening in a match expected to pit Messi against his Barcelona strike partner Luis Suarez. Uruguay arrived in Israel on Saturday.The match follows the cancellation of a pre-World Cup friendly fixture between Argentina and Israel in June 2018 after boycott calls.
Messi alognside his Barcelona FC strike partner Luis Suarez (Photo: AP)
That planned match was due to be played in Jerusalem, sparking Palestinian anger and criticism of Argentina online.
Israel considers Jerusalem its “indivisible” capital, while Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city – taken by Israel from Jordan in 1967 and later annexed – as the capital of their future state.
The Palestinian Football Association has not complained about Monday’s friendly game, which is being held in Tel Aviv.