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Palestinian FA head banned after call to burn Messi shirts

Lionel Messi (10) of Argentina in action against Emil Hallfredsson (20) of Iceland during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Moscow, Russia [Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency]
Lionel Messi (10) of Argentina in action against Emil Hallfredsson (20) of Iceland during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Moscow, Russia [Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency]

The head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, was banned from all football-related activity for a year by FIFA today on charges of inciting hatred and violence before a friendly planned between Israel and Argentina.

Rajoub protested after Israel switched the venue of the June game from Haifa to Jerusalem. He urged Palestinians to burn shirts bearing the name of Lionel Messi if Argentina’s star went ahead and played there.

The change of venue came at a particularly sensitive time, after US President Donald Trump unilaterally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital going against international law and the basis of all previously agreed peace negotiations.

Image of senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

Global football body FIFA said today its disciplinary committee considered Rajoub’s statements “incited hatred and violence”. It banned him for 12 months and fined him 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000).

Read: A sporting event should be an opportunity to highlight illusionary ‘unity’

Rajoub, it said, was banned from “taking part in any future match or competition taking place during the given period”. That included attending matches in any official capacity and participating in media activities at or near stadiums on match days, it added.

Rajoub and the Palestinian Football Association did not immediately respond to the announcement. Israel’s association declined to comment.

Argentina decided to pull out of the friendly, which would have been their last appearance before the World Cup, as political pressure mounted over the game.

Rajoub has long tried to get FIFA and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel because the Israel Football Association (IFA) is in beach of FIFA’s statutes by including six football teams based in occupied Palestinian territory in its ranks.

Occupation forces also regularly deny Palestinian players’ exit visas, administratively detain team members and cause damage to facilities such as the Palestinian Stadium in Gaza.

Read: At the World Cup 2018, regional rivalries play out on the pitch

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FIFAInternational OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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