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FIFA hammer falls…bans PFA official for one year

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) President Jibril Rajoub has been banned from attending matches for a year after FIFA ruled he had incited hatred and violence towards Lionel Messi.
Rajoub, also the President of the Palestine Olympic Committee, called on fans to burn pictures and shirts depicting the Argentinian superstar if he opted to play in a friendly match against Israel in Jerusalem earlier this year.
It led to Argentina cancelling the friendly 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.
The comments caught the attention of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, who have also fined Rajoub CHF20,000 (£16,000/$20,000/€17,500).
In response, the PFA issued a strongly-worded statement, calling the decision “disproportionate, absurd and lacking in evidence”.
The PFA also claim it is part of a “predisposition to ban General Rajoub from football activities for a long time” and that the announcement was communicated to the media before them.
The 12-month suspension, which comes into effect today, means 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”.
“These statements were made ahead of a friendly match scheduled for 9 June 2018 in Jerusalem between Israel and Argentina,” a FIFA statement read.
“The match was later cancelled.
“The Disciplinary Committee held that Mr Rajoub’s statements incited hatred and violence, and consequently imposed the above-mentioned sanctions.”
Argentina were hoping to use the match as part of their preparations for the World Cup in Russia.
Rajoub’s comments were criticised by Israel Football Association head Ofer Eini, who described his words as “physical and brutal threats that crossed every red line”.
Rajoub has been at loggerheads with the FIFA administration in recent years amid an ongoing feud with Israel.
He suffered a crushing defeat at the FIFA Congress in Moscow in June when he unsuccessfully attempted to force through a change to article three of the FIFA Statutes regarding human rights.
His long-winded interjection did not specifically mention Israel but called for human rights violations to be “punishable by suspension or expulsion”.
The PFA had earlier lodged an appeal against FIFA’s decision to postpone a verdict in the dispute with Israel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In June of last year, the PFA claimed that FIFA President Gianni Infantino had acted “illegally” by postponing a decision.
Infantino pushed through a last-ditch motion to take a vote on the dispute between the two countries at the ruling Council’s meeting in October and not the full Congress.
Rajoub also claimed the FIFA President had been influenced by a telephone conversation with Netanyahu, who phoned Infantino in a bid to get the item removed from the Congress agenda.
The disagreement centres on six Israeli teams based in the occupied territory.
Palestine say that the teams, playing in the settlements of Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Oranit and Tomer, are in territory which they eventually believe will be within the borders of a future Palestinian state so it goes against FIFA statutes.
Israel dispute this and have accused Rajoub of manipulating the situation to further his political interests.

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