FIFA bans Rajoub after his comments on Messi
Football Governing Body FIFA has banned Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub from attending matches for a year, after FIFA ruled he had incited hatred and violence towards Lionel Messi.
In a statement ahead of a match, Rajoub, on behalf of the Palestinian association, said Israel is in breach of FIFA statutes, which state that a member country’s teams cannot play matches on the territory of another association without permission.
Further, he demanded sanctions against Israel, which has six league teams based in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, and encouraged Barcelona star Lionel Messi not to play in an Argentina-Israel game in Jerusalem, while urging fans to burn their shirts if he does.
In his official statement, Rajoub said, "Messi is a symbol of peace and love. We ask him not to participate in laundering the crimes of the occupation. He has tens of millions of fans in the Arab and Muslim countries... we ask everyone to burn their shirts which bear his name and posters."
After his comments, Argentina cancelled the friendly to avoid any unfavorable circumstances, despite a specific request for it to go ahead from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his counterpart in the South American country, Mauricio Macri.
His comments on Messi were criticized by many football officials and fans. The comments also caught the attention of FIFA's Disciplinary Committee, who have also fined Rajoub CHF20,000 or $20,000.
As mentioned in FIFA's statement, "The Disciplinary Committee has sanctioned the President of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, with a 12-month match suspension and a fine of CHF 20,000 for breaching article 53 (Inciting hatred and violence) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, following media statements he gave calling on football fans to target the Argentinian Football Association and burn jerseys and pictures of Lionel Messi."
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.