By Andrew Warshaw
July 19 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed an appeal by the outspoken head of Palestinian football Jibril Rajoub against his ban for “inciting hatred and violence” toward Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.
CAS says its judging panel decided that FIFA’s one-year ban on Palestine Football Federation president Rajoub from attending games – plus a fine of CHF20,000 – “were not disproportionate.”
Rajoub’s ban expires next month just before the national team’s first 2022 World Cup qualifying game at home to Uzbekistan on September 5.
Rajoub’s comments were made when Argentina were due to play a warm-up game in Israel for the 2018 World Cup. He urged fans to burn Argentina shirts bearing the name and pictures of the Barcelona star. The match in Jersusalem was subsequently cancelled by Argentina.
The fixture was originally scheduled for Haifa but Palestinian sympathisers were infuriated by Israel’s provocative decision to switch it to disputed Jerusalem and, specifically, to the Teddy Kollek Stadium which is built on land that, according to Palestinians, was a village destroyed in 1948.
In his appeal to CAS Rajoub, who was not permitted a hearing by FIFA before the ban was handed down, had stated that his ban was “an unjust and political decision, an Israeli decision” pointing out that the complaint against him had come from the Israeli federation, not the Argentinians
But CAS argued in its ruling: “After taking due consideration of all the evidence produced and all arguments made, the CAS Panel found that Jibril Rajoub had failed to establish that any procedural violations were committed in the proceedings… that could justify the annulment of such decisions.”
Last month, it was reported that FIFA had opened an investigation earlier this year into Rajoub for breaching its ethics code.
The FIFA investigation is reportedly based on evidence submitted back in May 2017 alleging Rajoub had breached FIFA’s code 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.
FIFA has refused to confirm the story but it is understood the inquiry was opened in January this year and a leaked letter from chief ethics investigator Martin Ngoga, reported last month by Insideworldfootball and dated January 2019, appeared to confirm Rajoub is indeed under investigation.
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