RAMALLAH, August 25, 2018 – The Palestine Football Association has issued a statement regarding FIFA sanctions against the President of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, who was given a 12-month match suspension and a fine of CHF 20,000 for following media statements he gave calling on football fans to target the Argentinian Football Association and burn jerseys and pictures of Lionel Messi.
The Palestine Football Association’s full statement is below:
The Palestine Football Association expresses its utmost surprise at the decision by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, issued, against its President, which, surprisingly enough, was communicated to the media before the official notification reached the Palestine Football Association. This fact, among others, makes it clear to us, as it has been since the disciplinary procedure was initiated on the 29th of May, at a request of the Israeli Football Association and some settler extremist group, no less, that there has been a predisposition to ban General Rajoub from football activities for a long time.
We see the decision as unproportionate, absurd, and lacking in evidence, for the following reasons:
* The FIFA Disciplinary Committee’s decision is disproportionate with the alleged offense, since it serves a maximum penalty over an allegation unpacked by evidence.
* The FDC based its verdict on the allegations of interest groups, one of which (The Israeli FA) is in legal conflict before FIFA with the Palestine FA, and another representing an extremist settler group who reside, illegally, in the Palestinian occupied territories. The group based its accusations on media statements by General Rajoub made to a Lebanese media channel back in 2013
* With regard to the alleged threats to Lionel Messi, we question the legality of a third party acting on behalf of Messi who did not file a complaint himself, neither did the Argentinian football Association.
* The decision itself admits that the members of the Committee decided “on the basis of their personal convictions in application of art. 97 par. 3 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code”, and not on the various types of proof requested by the legal representation of General Rajoub. The Committee, in its decision, admittedly “took note” that the evidence requested by the legal representation were not looked into!
We are surprised by the speed at which FIFA was quick to convict the President of the Palestine FA, and how difficult it remains for FIFA to guarantee the right to play freely, safely, and without hindrance to the children of Palestine.
The Palestine Football Association, as always, reaffirms its commitment to law and procedure, and its respect to the institutions of FIFA, but we also retain our right to pursue this issue to the last possible legal venue.
A further statement will be released upon the return of the PFA President to Palestine.