KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: This has not been a good week for Jibril Rajoub, head of both the Palestinian football federation and the national Olympic committee.
On Wednesday Rajoub failed to persuade FIFA Congress to sharpen up the world football federation’s human rights regulations and now he faces disciplinary action over comments concerning Lionel Messi and the Argentina captain’s team-mates.
Rajoub, in an address to congress, had asserted that everyone in the worldwide football family should be in agreement over human rights. However Brazilian Fernando Sarney, on behalf of FIFA’s governing council, responded that recent upgrades of statutes were sufficient.
Congress agreed with Sarney and, despite further protestations from Palestine rejected by 156 votes to 35 the proposal to add a clause to statutes demanding suspension or expulsion of countries responsible for a “failure to recognise, respect, protect, guarantee and defend human rights in accordance with international standards, as well as any violation.”
Rajoub has now been notified of his unconnected disciplinary difficulties.
Last month Rajoub had urged fans to burn pictures and shirts of Messi if the latter played in a friendly against Israel in Jerusalem. Pro-Palestinian protesters had also demonstrated outside Argentina’s training camp in Spain as Messi & Co prepared for the World Cup finals in Russia.
In fact Argentina had found their team caught in a political wrangle.
The match against Israel had been scheduled initially for Haifa but was switched by Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev to Jerusalem’s Teddy Kollek Stadium which is built on land that, according to Palestinians, was a village destroyed in 1948.
Argentina’s own federation then decided to cancel the game despite an appeal from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his opposite number Mauricio Macri.
Subsequently the Israel Football Association complained to FIFA about Rajoub’s comments which it deemed as “physical and brutal threats that crossed every red line.”
FIFA confirmed undertaking action in a statement of its own.
This said: “The FIFA disciplinary committee has opened disciplinary proceedings against the president of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, as a result of his statements, widely reported in the media, with respect to the international friendly match that was scheduled to take place on 9 June 2018 between Israel and Argentina.”