Jibril Rajoub

Rajoub will contest the FIFA penalty he received for “incit[ing] hatred and violence.”

By: United with Israel Staff

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) said on Monday that it is going to appeal the decision by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) sanctioning its president Jibril Rajoub for inciting fans against Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.

Rajoub was banned from attending football matches for a year and was fined $20,000 for calling for violence against Messi following plans by the Argentine soccer team to play in Israel in May. This is FIFA’s minimum ban allowed in its disciplinary code for inciting hatred or violence.

Rajoub had personally targeted Messi and called on him to boycott Israel. He implored Messi not to “play a role in whitewashing the occupation” and threatened that if Messi does play in Israel, Arab and Muslim sports fans should burn photos and t-shirts of the Barcelona superstar.

FIFA said Rajoub “incited hatred and violence.”

The cancellation came hours after pro-Palestinian activists staged a nasty demonstration in front of the sports complex in Barcelona where Argentina was training for the World Cup. They waved the jersey of Argentina’s national team stained with red paint resembling blood.

Rajoub described during a press conference on Monday the FIFA decision as “unjust and political.”

He alleged that FIFA made its decision based on a complaint by “a right-wing Israeli who lives in an illegal settlement in the West Bank.”

“The PFA will go the FIFA appeals court then the CAS and if this will not bring results, we will go to the civil courts in Switzerland and the European Union until we reach the International Criminal Court,” he said. “We will continue to fight injustice we face in the PFA.”

An Embarrassing Blow for Rajoub

The punishment marks an embarrassing blow for Rajoub, who has long lobbied FIFA to sanction Israel for what he called its restriction of movement of Palestinian players.

Israel has rejected the Palestinian campaign as an attempt to politicize sports and has cited security concerns as the reason behind the occasional restrictions placed on Palestinian players, particularly in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians have utilized FIFA several times in recent years as a platform for attacking Israel.

Rajoub, who served time in an Israeli prison for acts terrorism, is the driving force behind the Palestinian battle against Israel in the world of sports.

“Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity,” Rajoub stated in 2014.

In 2012, slamming the idea of organized sports activities with Israelis, Rajoub stated on PA TV that he would bring Arabs by helicopter to events instead of crossing through Israel “so they will see no Jews, no Satans, no Zionist sons of bitches.”

AP contributed to this report. 

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Source: United with Israel