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Palestinian FA President Banned For Urging Fans To Burn Lionel Messi Shirts

Palestinian FA President Banned For Urging Fans To Burn Lionel Messi Shirts
By Eoin Lyons

FIFA have issued the president of the Palestinian Football Association a 12-month suspension after he urged fans to burn Lionel Messi shirts and pictures.

A friendly match which was scheduled to be played between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem was cancelled last June after Argentina bowed to pressure surrounding Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie stated at the time that he believed his country's footballers "were not willing to play the game" against Israel and following the cancellation of the friendly, the campaign group Avaaz, who had initially lobbied to get the match called off, praised the Argentinian national team for making a "brave ethical decision."

But prior to this Palestinian FA president Jibril Rajoub had asked fans to burn Messi's shirts and pictures of the Barcelona star should the fixture go ahead. The 65-year-old argued that Israel were using the fixture as a 'political tool'.

Rajoub wrote to Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentinian FA, accusing Israel of using the match as a “political tool”:

The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool. As was widely covered in Argentinian media, the match now is being played in order to celebrate the ‘70th anniversary of the State of Israel’.

He’s a big symbol so we are going to target him personally and we call on all to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him. We still hope that Messi will not come.

Rajoub was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs (£15,826) after FIFA deemed that his statements 'incited hatred and violence'.

See Also: Martin O'Neill To Meet With Declan Rice Amid England Interest

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