FIFA has banned Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub from all soccer activities for one year after he called on fans to burn jerseys and pictures of Argentine star Lionel Messi.
According to ESPN, Rajoub’s opposition to the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) decision to play a friendly match between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem motivated his actons. The game was reportedly cancelled amid political tenson in the region.
“The disciplinary committee held that Mr. Rajoub’s statments incited hatred and violence and consequently imposed severe sanctions,” FIFA said in a statement Friday. “The 12-month suspension 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 in any official capacity, which includes, among others, participating in media activities at stadiums or in their vicinity on matchdays. ”
In addition to the12-montjh suspension, Rajpoub has aso been ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,349). The suspension becomes effective “once the grounds of the decision have been notified,” FIFA noted.
Rajoub reportedly made his remarks about Messi before this summer’s World Cup, speaking out firmly against Messi taking part in the game, which he said would “whitewash the face of racism.”
“Messi is a big symbol so we are going t target him personally,” Rajoub said at the time. “And we call on everyone to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him. We hope that he will not come.”
The controversy surrounding the game centered on the site where it was scheduled to be played, the Jerusalem neighborhood of Malha, which was constructed over a former Palestinian village destroyed during the war that established Israel 70 years ago.