FIFA Bans Palestinian Football Chief for Calling for Burning Messi Jerseys

FIFA Bans Palestinian Football Chief for Calling for Burning Messi Jerseys

Friday, 24 August, 2018 - 17:30
Head of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The world’s football-governing body FIFA banned on Friday head of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub for a year after he urged Palestinians to burn shirts bearing the name of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.

FIFA charged him with inciting hatred and violence before a friendly planned between Israel and Argentina. The match was ultimately never held after the South American team decided to pull out from the friendly.

Rajoub protested after Israel switched the venue of the June game from Haifa to Jerusalem. He called on Palestinians to burn shirts bearing the name of Lionel Messi if he went ahead and played there.

The change of venue came at a particularly sensitive time, after US President Donald Trump had recognized in December Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state.

FIFA’s disciplinary committee banned Rajoub for 12 months and fined him 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000).

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.

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