FIFA World Cup

Israel cancel World Cup warm-up friendly with Argentina citing threats against Lionel Messi

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli had last week aired misgivings about having to travel to Israel.

Argentina’s upcoming friendly with Israel in Jerusalem has been cancelled, the Israeli embassy confirmed on Tuesday, citing unspecified threats against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

The World Cup warmup match had been scheduled to take place on Saturday.

But its status had been placed in doubt earlier, following protests by Palestinian football authorities who had urged Messi not to take part.

“The Embassy of Israel regrets to communicate the suspension of the match between Israel and Argentina,” a statement said, referring to “threats and provocations” against Messi.

Local media had reported earlier Tuesday that the game was set to be scrapped, depriving Messi and his team-mates of a final warm-up game before they open their World Cup campaign in Russia.

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie told reporters in Washington on the sidelines of the Organization of American States meeting that he believed Argentina’s players had been reluctant to travel to Israel for the game.

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

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli had last week aired misgivings about having to travel to Israel, noting he would have preferred to remain in Barcelona, where the team is holding its pre-World Cup training camp.

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

“But that’s the way it is, we have to travel on the day before the match, play Israel in Israel and then from there go on to Russia.”

On Sunday, Palestinian football boss Jibril Rajoub urged Messi not to play in the game in Jerusalem and urged fans to burn shirts bearing his name if he did.

At a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Rajoub told journalists he had written to Argentina’s government asking that Messi not take part in the June 9 friendly.

“This match has become a political tool,” Rajoub said in Arabic.

“The Israeli government is trying to give it political significance by insisting it be held in Jerusalem.”

Palestinians are outraged at US President Donald Trump’s decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of policy, and move his country’s embassy there.

The embassy opened on May 14, fanning Palestinian anger and intensifying protests on the Gaza border, with Israeli forces killing at least 61 Gazans that day.

Palestinians claim the eastern part of Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state. The Jewish state considers the entire city its own “indivisible” capital.

“Messi is a symbol of peace and love,” Rajoub said. “We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation.”

Messi, he added, “has tens of millions of fans in the Arab and Muslim countries... we ask everyone to burn their shirts which bear his name and posters (with his image).”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.