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SPORTS | 29-05-2018 12:44

Tickets to see Messi play in Jerusalem sell-out in 20 minutes

'No sporting event has ever caused such hysteria in Israel' says agency selling tickets for Israel-Argentina friendly next month.

Tickets for an Israel-Argentina friendly in Jerusalem next month with football star Lionel Messi expected in the line-up sold out within 20 minutes, the Israeli company handling sales said.

The Le'an agency said on its website that nearly 100,000 fans applied for 20,000 tickets when they went on general sale Sunday evening.

"No sporting event has ever caused such hysteria in Israel," it wrote.

Prices ranged from 44 shekels (about US$12, 10 euros) for children and soldiers to 825 shekels in the VIP area.

Another 5,000 places went to supporters of the Israeli national team in a pre-sale reserved for them and over 4,000 tickets were to be distributed to children from needy families.

The game will take place on June 9 at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem which has a capacity of 31,733 seats.

On social media networks, tickets were being resold for up to 4,500 shekels on Monday.

Argentina will play against Haiti on May 29 and then Israel just one week before their first match in the World Cup against Iceland on June 16 in Moscow. 

In Group D, Messi's men will face Croatia on June 21 and Nigeria on June 26.

Israel finished fourth in Group 7 in qualifying for the World Cup, behind Spain, Italy and Albania. They last qualified in 1970.

In the past, Argentina have played Israel several times in friendly matches, usually before the World Cup, suffering a 1-2 defeat in 1998 but crushing the Israelis 7-2 in 1990 with Diego Maradona at the helm.

The June 9 game will start after dark so that observant Jews can reach the stadium or watch it on TV without violating their Sabbath, which runs from dusk on Friday to sunset Saturday.

During the weekly day of rest the Jewish faith forbids travelling by motorised transport and the use of electricity.

- AFP

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