n a shock move on Friday, Football’s governing body- FIFA- decided to suspend PFA President Jibril Rajoub for inciting violence due to comments made in regards to a proposed friendly between Israel and Argentina.
FIFA put out the following statement in regards to their decision:
A non-violent campaign named Argentina No Vayas had protested the proposed scheduling of the match and calls grew louder when the match was moved from the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa to the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem which was built of the ruins of the Palestinian village of Malha
Israeli Minister for Culture and Sport Miri Regev pushed for the move and even allocated 2.7 million Israeli Shekels ($740,000) to move the match. That decision strengthened the hand of the campaigners who had already highlighted the connection to the US administration’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel- in contravention of international law.
By late May, there were already serious doubts whether the friendly between Israel and Argentina would take place.
Rajoub and the PFA only decided to chime in once a critical mass of support behind the campaign had formed. Rajoub, who harbors hopes of succeeding, Abu Mazen as President of the Palestinian Authority seized the opportunity to get involved and claim credit.
He organized a sparsely attended protest on June 3rd in front of the Argentina consulate in Ramallah and said:
“We will target Argentina and we target Messi. We will ask people to burn Messi’s [Jersey] and his picture if he decides to participate in this event…… but we still hope he will not.”
The comments were at best unnecessary, and unbefitting of a man in charge of developing and nurturing a sport built on the values of fair play.
Rajoub had not lent any support to the Argentina No Vayas campaign until that fateful day in June. The game was cancelled three days later.
The comments mean Rajoub will no longer be allowed to participate in any official footballing activities for a full calendar year. He cannot be near the team or stadium on match days but will remain relatively free to run the day-to-day affairs of the Palestine Football Association. It is the lightest suspension he could have received from FIFA.
The PFA released this statement following the announcement of the suspension: