The international soccer organization FIFA announced on Wednesday that it would be taking disciplinary steps against Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), for threatening Lionel Messi, the star striker of the Argentinian soccer team.
Rajoub had urged fans to burn pictures and shirts of Messi if he played in a friendly soccer game against Israel in Jerusalem that was canceled. Pro-Palestinian protesters had also demonstrated outside practices of the Argentinian team in Spain.Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev called Rajoub a terrorist, and said she felt vindicated by the decision.She had said that the cancellation was due to the threats against Messi, while her political opponents charged that it was because she moved the game from Haifa to Jerusalem.“Rajoub has made the soccer playing field into a battlefield,” Regev told the Knesset plenum after holding up a poster of Palestinian threats against Messi. “The Argentinians wanted the game to be in Jerusalem and FIFA wanted it to be in Jerusalem, so those who said it was canceled because of Jerusalem and not terror threats must apologize.”After being heckled by opposition MKs, who still blamed her for the game’s cancellation, Regev went on the offensive against them.“Bloodthirsty journalists who don’t care about the truth, and opposition MKs who are disconnected from reality tried to hang me in the town square,” she charged.This is not the first time Israel was targeted by the PFA nor was it the first time Rajoub was vocal about the Israel Football Association (IFA). Last week, The IFA planned to file a formal complaint with FIFA over the cancellation of a friendly match between Israel and Argentina, which the latter association was using as a World Cup warm-up. FIFA’s World Congress rejected the PFA’s call to amend its constitution with language that seemingly targets Israel.
Palestinian soccer chief says fans should burn Messi"s shirt if he plays against Israel in Jerusalem, June 3, 2018 (Reuters)
The organization said in a Facebook post on June 7 that it was disheartened by the cancellation and was looking to take steps against Rajoub.“The Association views with severity the physical and brutal threats that crossed every redline made by Palestinian Football Association chair Jibril Rajoub,” the IFA said. “The chair will send a letter today to FIFA President Gianni Infantino demanding punishment for those who want to harm soccer players and those who torpedoed a friendly match between the two teams.”
Israel FA has filed a complaint to FIFA only against the Palestinian FA and the president of the PFA, Jibril Rajoub. @Argentina— ISRAEL FA (@ISRAELFA) June 7, 2018