Story-ideas-1011172

Argentinian soccer player fights to stay in Israel

  • Sport7Sept
Prior to the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Israel were scheduled to play a friendly against Argentina in Jerusalem. Palestinians and politicians then got involved, and at the last minute, the game was called off.
by JACK MILNER | Sep 06, 2018

It’s amazing how things can go full circle, because we now have an Argentinian soccer player begging to be allowed to stay in Israel. Pedro Galván faces the possibility of being deported from Israel after his contract with Hapoel Marmorek, which is based in Rehovoth, was cancelled. The problem is, Galván does not want to go. He has spent 10 years in Israel and during that time, played 257 matches and scored 104 goals. That has made him the most successful foreigner ever to play in Israel.

Galván had already applied for Israeli citizenship, but the moment his contract with the soccer club ended, it automatically halted the process. Just a few days after his contract ended, the Argentinian received a visit from Israel’s immigration police informing him that he would have to leave the country or be deported.

Fortunately the 32-year-old has one massive supporter – Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister, Miri Regev. She has written to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri asking him to allow the football player to stay.

One of the reasons Galván has had such strong support from people high up in government is that he came out in full support of Israel when the friendly against Argentina was in the balance.

Although he is not Jewish, Galván appeared on the TNT news channel in Argentina, saying that the team should play the match, and not give into pressure from the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. The interview can be watched on YouTube. Galván was impressive in the way he handled those who called in to challenge him on his point of view. When the subject of the team’s safety came up, he replied, “Israel has the number one army in the world and its intelligence is also number one in the world. It is a very safe place to visit.

“If the Argentinian national team comes here to play, it will have more security than Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.”

Galván also suggested that instead of sitting thousands of kilometres away and criticising, they should come to Israel and see things for themselves. “We live a very good life here and we are very happy. There is no better place for us. My daughters even speak Hebrew better than Spanish, and my wife also wants us to stay here.”

Galván was born in 1985, and started his soccer career in 2003 with Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata. In 2005, he joined San Martín de San Juan, and in 2007, went to Ecuador to play for Olmedo before returning to San Martín. After San Martín were relegated from the Argentine Premier Division, Galván received an offer to join Bnei Yehuda in Israel.

He stayed with them until the end of the 2012/13 season, after which he joined Maccabi Petah Tikva. On 22 February 2014, he scored his 71st goal in the Israeli Premier League, which made him the league’s best scoring foreign player in history, beating former Maccabi Haifa star Đovani Roso.

In the middle of 2014, Galván left Israel for French second league side Nîmes, but then he returned to play in Israel, and signed for Bnei Yehuda, playing there for two seasons. When Borak Obramov became the owner of the team, Galván was not happy, and left the club to join Hapoel Marmorek.

Regev’s support will hopefully win the day for the Argentinian. “I spoke personally to Minister of the Interior, Aryeh Deri, to give Galván citizenship because of his contribution to the country and Israeli football,” she is quoted as saying in The Times of Israel.

“All actions taken by our team will bear fruit, and Galván will continue his life in Israel. We need to give him the honour and respect he deserves as a foreign athlete who gave everything for Israeli football.”

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