(November 18, 2019 / JNS) Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi touched down in Israel on Sunday together with his country’s national team, which is to play a friendly match against Uruguay on Monday.
The Argentinian team arrived from Saudi Arabia, where the team beat Brazil 1-0 in a friendly match, according to AP.
Argentina canceled a World Cup warm-up match in Jerusalem last year due to safety concerns following protests in Judea and Samaria, and around the world.
The teams were close to canceling Monday’s match due to the recent round of fighting between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups, according to AP.
Sylvan Adams, the Canadian-Israeli billionaire who set up the match, led the negotiations that allowed it to go forward as planned. Adams told AP that he is looking to improve Israel’s image by sponsoring sporting events. Last year, he brought the opening stages of the Giro d’Italia cycling race to Israel.
The Palestinian BDS group PACBI criticized Monday’s game.
During a dinner at their hotel in Tel Aviv on Sunday, the Argentinian team heard a presentation about “Save a Child’s Heart,” which brings children to Israel from across the world, including Africa, for life-changing heart surgery at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
This week, the organization is working alongside doctors in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to perform life-saving heart surgery and catheterizations for an expected group of 30 children as part of “Mission Ethiopia.”
To date, “Save a Child’s Heart” has treated more than 5,000 children from 62 countries. The Argentinian players gave enthusiastic applause and met some of the kids who have come to Israel for surgery.
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