Argentine soccer player to be deported after decade in Israel


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentine soccer player Pedro Galvan will be deported from Israel after being cut from a local team.

The Hapoel Tel Aviv club canceled Galvan’s contract last year after he had applied for citizenship. Galvan, who is not Jewish, has said that he wants to stay in the country with his wife and four children.

Galvan played 10 years of his professional career in Israel, where he is the top foreign scorer, notching 104 goals in 257 matches.

The cancellation of his contract stops the process to obtain Israeli citizenship.

Israel’s culture and sports minister, Miri Regev, has tried to help Galvan, including asking Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to arrange for the player to stay. But on Friday the Interior Ministry rejected his request, saying that “we do not see any reason to authorize the continued residency of Galvan and his family in Israel.”

Galvan played from 2008 to 2012 for Bnei Yehuda, then moved to Maccabi Petach Tikvah.

He spoke positively of Israel when the match between his native Argentina’s national squad and Israel was in doubt earlier this year due to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“There is no safer place than Israel. If I said here it is heaven … you will think I’m exaggerating,” he told the TNT channel in June. “Argentina must come here, the team will have more security than Bibi Netanyahu.”

Ultimately, the match was canceled.

Galvan in that interview called on his native countrymen to visit.

“Please come here to see, life is luxe here. I can’t find a better place,” he said on live Spanish-language TV. “My daughters speak Hebrew better than Spanish. My wife also wants to stay here.”

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