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Israel-Palestinian row over scrapped match placed on Messi, politics.



The Israeli and Palestinian football associations traded accusations Wednesday over the cancellation of a World Cup warm-up match between the Jewish state and Argentina in the disputed city of Jerusalem.

Israel accused the Palestinians of “football terror”, saying their threats saw Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and his team abandon what would have been Argentina’s final friendly match ahead of the World Cup.

The Palestinians rejected the allegation, saying the Argentinians pulled out of the match as they realised Israel was using their presence for political gain.

The encounter was called off on Tuesday after a campaign by the Palestinians following its relocation to Jerusalem.


“We are confronting a football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president (Jibril Rajoub),” said Rotem Kamer of the Israel Football Association.

He accused them of threatening players and their families, without providing any evidence.

“We are seeing it as crossing a red line and we cannot accept it,” Kamer said, adding an official complaint would be sent to world football’s governing body FIFA.

The sold-out game in Jerusalem was hotly opposed by Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city, occupied and later annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.

It had originally been scheduled to take place the northern Israeli city of Haifa but was moved after pressure from Israel’s hardline sports minister, Miri Regev.

Palestinians were already angered by US President Donald Trump’s transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, which sparked protests in Gaza in which dozens of Palestinians were killed.

Israel considers Jerusalem its “indivisible” capital.

Ahead of the game Rajoub had urged Messi not to take part and called on fans to burn shirts bearing his name if he did.

Speaking on Wednesday, he thanked the Argentinians for the cancellation, saying he hopes they will win the World Cup.

“I think what happened yesterday is a red card from everybody to the Israelis to (get them to) understand that they (only) have a right to organise, or play football within their internationally recognised borders,” he said in English, pointing out the final status of Jerusalem is supposed to be the subject of negotiations between the parties.

Rajoub laughed off Israeli threats of action, denying there was any intimidation.

“The Argentinian Football Association cancelled the agreement it signed with the Israelis because it reached the conclusion that this match is a political one.”

Israeli media said that late Tuesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with whom he has good relations, in an effort to save the match but that Macri had said he was unable to intervene.

Netanyahu is currently visiting Europe and his office could not immediately confirm the reports.

Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom, considered close to Netanyahu, expressed ire at Argentina with its front-page headline: “They surrendered to terrorism: The game against Argentina has been cancelled.”

Argentina players ‘not willing’ 
Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said before confirmation of the game’s cancellation that he believed his country’s players had been reluctant to travel to Israel for the match.

“As far as I know, the players of the national team were not willing to play the game,” Faurie said.

The Argentina squad practised on Wednesday morning at FC Barcelona’s training ground, just a few hours after the friendly match was called off.

“Argentina is seven days from the World Cup. We want to focus on what is really important and which is before us,” a spokesman for the country’s football federation told AFP in Barcelona, where the national team has been training ahead of the start of the tournament in Russia on June 14.

The status of Jerusalem, always a key sticking point in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, surged back to centre-stage when Trump tore up decades of US policy to recognise it as Israel’s capital in December.

The United States shifted its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem in May on the 70th anniversary of the creation of Israel, in a move met with condemnation from the Palestinians and many of Washington’s international allies.

At the same time, Israel has faced fierce criticism over its use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters on the Gaza Strip border with the Jewish state.

Israeli troops have killed at least 125 Gazans since March 30, during protests and clashes along the border over the return of Palestinians to land they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

The press in Argentina and Israel reported that the Argentine Football Association was supposed to receive a payment of between two and three million dollars if Messi played.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli last week aired misgivings about having his players make the trip to Israel, noting he preferred to remain in Barcelona.

“From a sporting point of view, I would have preferred to play in Barcelona,” Sampaoli said.

Messi is looking to inspire Argentina to victory at the World Cup, having lost in the final four years ago.

Israel has not qualified for the tournament.



Facebook’s WhatsApp limits text forwards to five user to restrain false news



Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp (FB.O) messenger service company executives has stated their desire in globally limiting the number of times a user can farward a message to five, in a bid to fight “misinformation and rumors”.

Victoria Grand, vice president for policy and communications at WhatsApp, said at an event in the Indonesian capital, “We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today.”


Previously, a WhatsApp user could forward a message to 20 individuals or groups. The five-recipient limit expands globally a measure WhatsApp put into place in India in July after the spread of rumors on social media led to killings and lynching attempts.

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WhatsApp, which has around 1.5 billion users, has been trying to find ways to stop misuse of the app, following global concern that the platform was being used to spread fake news, manipulated photos, videos without context, and audio hoaxes, with no way to monitor their origin or full reach.

The app’s end-to-end encryption allows groups of hundreds of users to exchange texts, photos and video beyond the purview of independent fact checkers or even the platform itself.


Credit to Reuters for confirming the development through WhatsApp’s head of communications Carl Woog, stating that WhatsApp will roll out an update to activate the new forward limit starting Monday. adding that Android users will receive the update first, followed by users of Apple’s iOS.


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R.Kelly cut off by Sony music over alleged acts of sexual abuse



Chicago-born singer, R. Kelly has parted ways with Sony Music and its subsidiary label, RCA Records, amid controversies surrounding his alleged acts of sexual abuse.

The controversial singer, who is facing different allegations of abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation, was dropped by the record label on Friday.

R. Kelly was removed from the RCA Records website, whose parent company is Sony Music.


This new development comes in the wake of calls and petitions from members of the #MuteRKelly movement, who have been pestering the record company to part ways with him.

The calls intensified in the wake of the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ in which multiple women accused him of sexual assault.


This month has seen previous collaborators like Lady Gaga, Chance the Rapper, and Phoenix, all condemn R. Kelly and remove their collaborative songs from streaming services.

The documentary ‘Surviving R.Kelly’ is in six parts and gives detailed explanation into the history of allegations against the 52-year-old superstar.


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