Topic | Choose topic/s and define your search
Affiliations / Personalities
Date Range

PMW sends complaint to FIFA over Palestinian Football Association head’s politicization of the game and support for terror

Andrew Warshaw  |

Israel switch of Argentine game to Jerusalem
sparks Rajoub to call for burning of Messi shirts

A bitter war of words row has broken out over Argentina’s upcoming pre-World Cup friendly against Israel with the head of the Palestine Football Association urging Arab fans to burn replica shirts of Lionel Messi if he plays and Israel’s backers countering the rhetoric by angrily protesting to FIFA.

PFA boss Jibril Rajoub has called on Argentina to cancel Saturday’s game which takes place in Jerusalem amidst increasing tension in the city. The fixture is due to be played in the neighbourhood of Malha in west Jerusalem…

The warm-up game has attracted massive interest among the Israeli fans, but Rajoub has written to Claudio Tapia, the head of the Argentinian FA, accusing Israel of using the match as a “political tool”. […] Noting Messi has millions of fans across the Arab and Islamic world, Rajoub told reporters separately: “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.”

In response, the pro-Israel monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch has written to Gianni Infantino, with a copy to the Argentinians, arguing it was other side who were the guilty party and accusing Rajoub and the PFA of trying to “continue in their attempts to politicize football and to drag FIFA, UEFA and CONMEBOL into that conflict.“ This, PMW said, “should be unacceptable to FIFA and should be dealt with with the utmost severity.”

It continued: “However, lurking beneath the surface of Rajoub’s letter is a much harsher reality. It is important to stress that the pitch on which the game is to be played is situated in an area of Jerusalem that has been under Israeli jurisdiction since 1948. Even if this point were relevant, and we would argue that it is not, it would mean that Rajoub is objecting to Israel’s national team hosting a foreign national team in an area of Israel that is indisputably under Israeli control.”

“Unfortunately, this opinion, which denies Israel’s very right to exist is not uncommon for either Rajoub or the PFA.”

Laying part of the blame squarely at FIFA’s feet, the PMW submission pulls no punches in terms of its language and its frustration at FIFA’s perceived lack of decisive action against the PFA’s approach.

“Unfortunately, Rajoub and the PFA’s brazen approach and open hostility towards Israel and the Israeli Football Association is a direct product of the inaction of FIFA and FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.”

“In March 2017, Palestinian Media Watch submitted a detailed complaint to FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee against both Rajoub personally and the PFA. In the complaint we provided unequivocal evidence that the PFA and Mr. Rajoub regularly and gravely breach the FIFA Statutes by promoting and glorifying terrorism; inciting hatred and violence; promoting racism; and preventing the use of the game of football in order to build a bridge for peace. Shamefully, over a year has passed since we submitted out complaint, and to the best of our knowledge, the Disciplinary Committee has still not dealt with it. If Rajoub and the PFA are not brought to task and reprimanded for its previous and current breaches of FIFA’s Statutes, Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Code, then one can only reasonably assume that FIFA itself condones his reprehensible putrid actions.

“In order to put an end to his continued aggression, and in order to avoid the politicisation of football that Rajoub insists upon, it is time for FIFA to take action against him and the PFA.