Argentina have pulled out of a friendly against Israel in Jerusalem after threats were allegedly made against captain Lionel Messi.
Jibril Rajoub, who is head of the Palestinian Football Association, encouraged fans to burn shirts bearing Messi’s name should he play.
The Israeli embassy said “it regrets to communicate the suspension of the match between Israel and Argentina,” and referred to unspecified “threats” and “provocations” against Messi.
Rajoub claims to have written to have the Argentinean FA asking for the FC Barcelona forward not to play in the friendly.
“The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem,” he said, adding that Messi was “a symbol of peace and love.”
He added: “We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation.”
The two sides were due to meet on Saturday at the Teddy Kollek Stadium in the Israeli city ahead of Jorge Sampaoli’s team heading to Russia for the World Cup.
Argentina are in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria as the country bids to win the tournament for a third time.
The Palestinian FA – which had called on Argentina to pull out of the game – said in a statement that the friendly had been called off.
It said: “The president of the Palestinian Federation of Football General Gabriel Rajoub confirmed that the Argentine Football Federation cancelled his game with Israel’s team… on the land of Jerusalem, as a result of the efforts of the Palestinians with the assistance of regional and international federations.
“The will of values, ethics and the message of sport had triumphed today, and the red card had been lifted in Israel’s face by cancelling this match.”