According to a report in Spain, soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona could hold a preseason game in Israel this summer.
A deal for the team to travel to Israel and Germany in August has yet to be finalized, but a proposal to play in those two countries has been seen as the best option given the COVID-19 restrictions, reported the Catalan daily newspaper Ara.
Citing sources from the La Liga club, the newspaper said talks in Israel began before the recent fighting between the Israeli military and the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip. However, the hostilities, which ended in a ceasefire early Friday, are believed to have resulted in some reluctance on the part of the club to travel to Israel.
If the deal is sealed for Israel, it will be the first time Barcelona have played a preseason game in the country.
The team, led by Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, played a friendly game in Jaffa in front of a crowd of young Israelis in 2013 as part of a two-day “peace tour” in the Holy Land.
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Messi also traveled to Israel in 2019 to play a friendly match between Argentina and Uruguay, where he faced his then Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez.
This game has been questioned because the week before the game it fought between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest group in the Gaza Strip after the Hamas rulers of the strip.
The year before, Argentina and Messi were supposed to face the Israeli national team in Jerusalem before traveling to Russia for the World Cup. However, the cadre canceled the trip at short notice after Palestinian officials and activists exerted heavy pressure.
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