BUENOS AIRES (AFP) –
The Argentine field hockey player who was controversially filmed training on the disputed Falkland Islands in a television commercial has been dropped from an Olympic warm-up tournament.
Fernando Zylberberg, 34, was filmed running and exercising at locations on the British-ruled islands for the pre-London 2012 Olympics advertisement, which featured the slogan “to compete on English soil we train on Argentine soil.”
But the player, who has captained his national side, has been omitted from the 18-man squad picked for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia this month, where Argentina — which claims the Falklands as its territory — could face Britain.
The Argentine Hockey Confederation did not state on its website any reasons for Zylberberg’s omission from the squad for the May 24 to June 4 tournament, the final major event leading up to the summer Games in London.
Zylberberg, who has twice competed for his country at the Olympics, was pictured running through the streets of Port Stanley, the capital of the disputed islands. He was also filmed doing step-ups on the town’s Great War Memorial, which honors British sailors who died in World War I.
The ad was aired on Argentine television amid high tensions between the two countries as they mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war over the British-held islands still claimed by Buenos Aires as its own.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the TV spot but Alicia Castro, Argentina’s ambassador to Britain, said in an interview published at the weekend that the commercial was not meant to be a provocation.
The Argentine National Olympic Committee has distanced itself from the ad and International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge told AFP that the commercial was against IOC rules and should not be repeated.
Created by the Argentine arm of global marketing agency Y and R, the TV spot was released by Argentina’s presidency and claims to be a “homage to the fallen and ex-combatants” of the Falklands conflict.
Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the South Atlantic islands triggered a 74-day war, which ended in a humiliating defeat for Buenos Aires after British prime minister Margaret Thatcher sent in a naval task force to reclaim the territory.
The conflict over the islands, which Britain has ruled since 1833, cost the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British troops.