Because the owner of an Israeli soccer club “cannot betray Jerusalem,” he has decided to cancel the match against Barcelona.

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Because the owner of an Israeli soccer club “cannot betray Jerusalem,” he has decided to cancel the match against Barcelona.

According to the Associated Press, the owner of Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem soccer club canceled an August 4 match with Barcelona when the latter refused to play in Jerusalem.

Since Israel annexed east Jerusalem and claimed it as its capital in 1967, a decision that was not recognized internationally, the city has been a source of controversy. In the meanwhile, if the Palestinians construct their own state, they want east Jerusalem to be their capital.

Beitar Jerusalem owner Moshe Hogeg said he made the choice to cancel the match “with tremendous grief,” but he refused to accede to what he deemed a “political” demand.

“I slept with a heavy heart, thought a lot, and decided that above all else I am a proud Jew and Israeli,” Hogeg wrote on Facebook after receiving the contract to sign and discovering the unequivocal demand that the game not take place in the capital city, Jerusalem, and several other demands that I didn’t like. “I’m not willing to betray Jerusalem.”

See the list below for more Associated Press reporting.

Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion praised the decision, stating that teams planning to “boycott” Jerusalem should be prevented from entering Israel entirely.

In a statement, he added, “Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel, and the decision to boycott it is not a professional, sports, or educational one.”

Barcelona did not respond to the request for comment right away.

Beitar Jerusalem is the only major Israeli soccer club that has never recruited an Arab player, and its ardent supporters have a history of chanting racist slogans. Hogeg, who bought the squad in 2018, has promised to fight bigotry and put the club’s anti-Arab followers on the outs.

The Palestinian Football Association wrote to Barcelona earlier this month to express its displeasure with the planned game in Jerusalem.

Sami Abou Shehadeh, an Israeli parliamentarian from the Balad party, had also asked Barcelona to cancel the game, claiming Beitar “represents the most radical, racist, and fascist sectors of Israeli society.” Palestinian soccer teams have also written to Barcelona, requesting that the Spanish club not play in Jerusalem.

Following pro-Palestinian rallies in 2018, Argentina canceled a World Cup warm-up match with Israel. Lionel Messi and his teammates have been accused by certain Israeli leaders of giving in to terrorism.

Later, the international soccer federation. This is a condensed version of the information.

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