Palestine Football Association accuses FIFA of colluding with Israelis in ban on its head

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RAMALLAH, August 25, 2018 (WAFA) – The Palestine Football Association (PFA) Saturday accused the world football association, FIFA, of colluding with Israel and right wing Israeli groups in its decision to ban its head, Jibril Rajoub, from attending FIFA games for one year for allegedly inciting to hatred and violence against Argentinian player Lionel Messi.

FIFA’s disciplinary committee said on its website on Friday that it has “sanctioned” Rajoub, “with a 12-month match suspension and a fine of CHF 20,000 (over $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.”

Palestinians had strongly opposed holding a pre-World Cup friendly match between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem. The match was originally scheduled to be held in Haifa, northern Israel, but Palestinians accused Israel of using the game for political ends by moving it to occupied Jerusalem. The game was eventually cancelled after the Argentinean team said it will not play in Israel.

“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 match days,” said the FIFA committee.

The 12-month match suspension became effective on Friday.

The PFA said it “expresses its utmost surprise” at the decision by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee against its president, “which, surprisingly enough, was communicated to the media before the official notification reached the Palestine Football Association.”

It said. “This fact, among others, makes it clear to us, as it has been since the disciplinary procedure was initiated on the 29th of May, at a request of the Israeli Football Association and some settler extremist group, nonetheless, that there has been a predisposition to ban General Rajoub from football activities for a long time.”

The PFA said the Disciplinary Committee’s decision was based “on the allegations of interest groups,” one of which is the Israeli Football Association, which is in legal conflict with the PFA before FIFA, “and another representing an extremist settler group that resides illegally in the Palestinian occupied territories” that based its accusations on media statements by Rajoub to Lebanese media in 2013.

“With regard to the alleged threats to Lionel Messi, we question the legality of a third party acting on behalf of Messi who did not file a complaint himself, neither did the Argentinian football Association,” said the PFA.

“The decision itself admits that the members of the Committee decided ‘on the basis of their personal convictions in application of art. 97 par. 3 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code’, and not on the various types of proof requested by the legal representation of General Rajoub. The Committee, in its decision, admittedly ‘took note’ that the evidence requested by the legal representation were not looked into.”

The PFA said: “We are surprised by the speed at which FIFA was quick to convict the President of the Palestine FA, and how difficult it remains for FIFA to guarantee the right to play freely, safely, and without hindrance to the children of Palestine.”

It reaffirmed “its commitment to law and procedure, and its respect to the institutions of FIFA,” adding that “we also retain our right to pursue this issue to the last possible legal venue.”

(Source / 25.08.2018)

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