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June 5, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Argentina's soccer team pulls out of Israel friendly following mounting pressure over Gaza violence

The Argentinian soccer team has announced it will not play a pre-World Cup friendly against Israel in Jerusalem following growing public opposition to the fixture.

Following last month's massacre in Gaza, over 800,000 members of Avaaz joined the call to sanction Israel as a last resort and a last hope for a peace that can save both sides from further bloodshed. Avaaz members across Spain and Argentina sent messages to the Argentinian Football Federation demanding that the game be canceled.

"Over 800,000 people have joined a global call for sanctions on Israel in the last few weeks -- they are celebrating the Argentinian team's brave ethical decision. This proves Argentina understands there is nothing friendly about playing in Jerusalem, when just miles away Israelis snipers are shooting unarmed protesters," said Alice Jay, Campaign Director at Avaaz.

Last Friday Razzan Al-Najjar a 21 year old medic wearing a white vest was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper, making her the 119th Palestinian killed in the last two months in Gaza. The disproportionate and illegal use of force against Palestinians is escalating.

The stadium is built on stolen Palestinian land. The Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem is built on the site of the destroyed Palestinian village of Malha. Playing there would have tarnished Argentina's global reputation and its national sport.

Fadi Quran, Senior Campaigner at Avaaz in Palestine added: "Argentina’s decision has brought a spark of hope to millions of Palestinians who felt forgotten. From Palestine we say: Thank you Argentina for taking a moral stance and reminding the world that Palestinians lives matter."

In addition to its online campaign, Avaaz organized a letter signed by Palestinian Christian leaders to the Pope, asking him not to agree to Israel's request to bless the game. Argentinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) Movement activists campaigned heavily for the game to be canceled.

Last week, the Palestinian Football Association wrote to their Argentinian counterparts urging for the game to be cancelled, saying that by playing in Jerusalem it signalled support for Trump over his decision to move the US embassy to the city, and the bloodshed that followed.

The game was scheduled for June 9 and was originally scheduled to be played in Haifa, but was moved to Jerusalem last week.

ENDS

For more information or interviews, please contact:

New York: Will Davies, +1 646-628-1210, will@avaaz.org

Ramallah: Fadi Quran, +972 597 599 446 fadi@avaaz.org