FIFA bans Palestinian soccer chief for inciting hatred

The disciplinary committee of the world soccer body The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) sanctioned the Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub on August 24 with a 12 month match suspension and fine of US$20,000 for inciting hatred and violence.

“The 12-month match suspension imposed on Mr Rajoub entails a ban on taking part in any future match or competition taking place during the given period,” said FIFA in a statement.

“Consequently, Mr Rajoub will not be able to attend football matches or competitions in any official capacity, which includes, among others, participating in media activities at stadiums or in their vicinity on matchdays.”

The sanctions come after Rajoub earlier this year urged fans to burn pictures of Argentina striker Lionel Messi and replicas of his shirt if he played against Israel in Jerusalem.

The World Cup warm-up match between Israel and the twice World Cup Champions Argentina was original to be played in Haifa but was moved to Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium.

However, the Palestinians were not happy that the match was to be played in Jerusalem, which is why Rajoub wrote to the head of the Argentinian FA, Claudio Tapia, accusing Israel of using the match as a political tool.

The change of venue came as a sensitive time after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

At the time, the head of the Rajoub told the media that he targeted Lionel Messi because he is a big symbol.

We are going to target him personally, and we call on all to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him. We still hope that Messi will not come, he told reporters.

The Argentinean FA eventually cancelled the game after the change in location of the match had ignited protests from Palestinian activists.

According to both Israeli officials and officials with the Argentine FA, threats had been made against Lionel Messi and other members of the team.

My responsibility as the president of the A.F.A. is to work for the safety of my people, which is why I made this decision, the associations’ president, Claudio Tapia, said in a short statement.

According to the Palestinian FA, they will not accept the penalty given to Jibril Rajoub, as the decision went beyond the alleged offence; it imposed a maximum punishment for an accusation that was not proven.

The Palestinian body cast doubt on the validity of the complaint lodged by the Israeli FA � which it called a “third party that is in active conflict with the Palestinian FA,” and said that neither Messi nor the Argentinian FA had acted on the matter.

Rajoub added that he will appeal the ban. The President has long tried to get both FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel. So far without any luck.

Source: Palestine Monitor