The president of the Palestinian Football Association has been handed a 12-month ban after football’s governing body found him guilty of “inciting hatred and violence.”
Jibril Rajoub had urged supporters to burn photos and player jerseys if Lionel Messi or his Argentinian national team played a scheduled friendly match against the Israeli national team in Jerusalem, in June. Messi subsequently pulled out of the game and his team stayed away in what was widely seen as a major victory for the effort to boycott of Israel.
However, FIFA, has now suspended him for a year, as well as handing him a £15,826 fine, saying the ban “entails a ban [on him] taking part in any future match or competition taking place during the given period.
“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 match days.”
The World Jewish Congress, whose President, Ronald S. Lauder, sent a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, urging the organisation to take punitive measures, calling the subsequent cancellation of the match “a win for the champions of international divisiveness”, welcomed the decision.
WJC CEO Robert Singer said: “FIFA has sent a strong message to the Palestinian Football Association and its supporters that incitement to terror has no place in our society, on or off the football field. Over the years, the PFA has repeatedly demonised Israel, politicised sports, and encouraged violence, under the guidance of its chairman, Jibril Rajoub. I hope that Mr. Rajoub’s suspension will make it clear that sport is meant to bring people together regardless of politics, race, or religion. We must not let adherence of terror prevail.”
The Palestinian FA expressed its “utmost surprise” at the decision, saying it was “unproportionate, absurd, and lacking in evidence” and that it would “pursue this issue to the last possible legal venue”.