FIFA ban Palestinian Football president for inciting violence against Lionel Messi
The President of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, has been handed a 12-month match suspension and a fine of CHF 20,000 for inciting hatred and violence towards Argentina forward Lionel Messi.
Rajoub encouraged fans to burn pictures of Argentina striker Lionel Messi and replicas of his shirt if he played in Argentina's planned pre-World Cup friendly against Israel in Jerusalem.
The match was ultimately cancelled after Messi was threatened with the Israeli embassy stating that the provocations logically aroused the solidarity of his colleagues and fear of playing the friendly and that the situation was 'not foreign to the daily life of Israel's civilian population whose sporting stars, to put it simply, have been on numerous occasions the targets of violence and attacks'.
Rajoub wrote to Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentinian FA, accusing Israel of using the match as a “political tool”.
“The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool. As was widely covered in Argentinian media, the match now is being played in order to celebrate the ‘70th anniversary of the State of Israel’,” part of Rajoub’s letter said.
“He’s a big symbol so 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."
The Disciplinary Committee held that Mr Rajoub’s statements incited hatred and violence, and consequently imposed the above-mentioned sanctions.
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. 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 12-month match suspension becomes effective today, when the grounds of the decision have been notified.