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The Latest: Argentine official apologizes over Israel match

JERUSALEM (AP) The Latest on Argentina calling off soccer match with Israel (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

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.

Israels 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. Its 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.

5:10 p.m.

The head of Israels soccer association says the Palestinians have ”crossed a red line” with the sudden cancellation of a game with Argentinas national team this week.

Ofer Eini blamed Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, on Wednesday for ”doing all he can” to remove Israel from international football.

Eini said protests are legitimate but Rajoubs calls for Arab and Muslim fans to burn photos and T-shirts of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi went too far.

Argentina has called off a World Cup warmup match against Israel after protests by pro-Palestinian groups.

Activists protested outside the sports complex in Barcelona where Argentina is preparing ahead of the World Cup. Some waved the jersey of Argentinas national team stained with red paint resembling blood.

4:30 p.m.

Israels sports ministry says a ”negotiation” is taking place over the canceled Israel-Argentina friendly match.

The ministry said talks had been going on for several hours Wednesday, and that a statement will be issued by Sports Minister Miri Regev.

It gave no further details.

Israels headline-seeking sports minister faced a barrage of criticism after Argentina called off a World Cup warmup match in Jerusalem because of pro-Palestinian protests.

10:15 a.m.

Israels headline-seeking sports minister is facing a barrage of criticism after Argentina called off a World Cup warmup match in Jerusalem because of pro-Palestinian protests.

Miri Regev had insisted on moving the game to contested Jerusalem and was orchestrating a politicized audience with Lionel Messi.

Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog called the snub a ”spectacular own goal” by Regev that delivered victory to boycotters of the Jewish State. Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay called for a police investigation into Regevs ”corrupt conduct.”

The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, had called on Arab soccer fans to burn Messi posters if he participated.

Regev says terrorist groups had made threats against Argentinas players and their families. She accused members of the Israeli parliament of being ”Trojan Horses who aid terrorism.”

Original Article

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