FIFA opens disciplinary proceeding against Palestinian soccer head over canceled Israel-Argentina match


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The FIFA international soccer federation has opened disciplinary proceedings against the president of the Palestinians’ soccer governing body for alleged incitement that led to the cancellation of the friendly match in Jerusalem between Israel and Argentina.

Earlier this month the Palestinian Football Association, or PFA, urged Argentina to cancel the match. Its president, Jibril Rajoub, accused Israel of “politicizing sport” by hosting the match in Jerusalem. Rajoub also urged superstar Argentine captain Lionel Messi not to play in the game, and called on Arab and Muslim fans to burn posters and jerseys bearing his name if he did.

The Israel Football Association last week filed a formal complaint with FIFA against Rajoub and the PFA over Rajoub’s conduct ahead of the match, which also included a threat to thwart Argentina’s bid to host the World Cup in 2030. The proceedings were announced on Wednesday.

“The ritual repeats itself every time, when Rajoub tries to lead decisions at FIFA against our soccer and the State of Israel,” IFA head Ofer Eini said in a statement. “Thanks to right and intelligent work we are succeeding in explaining to our friends in FIFA what really lies behind the supposedly innocent proposals of someone who has crossed every red line.”

Also Wednesday, the FIFA World Congress meeting in Moscow rejected a PFA proposal to change the FIFA Statute with language that appears to target Israel.  The Palestinian amendment calls for repercussions against countries that “fail to recognize, respect, protect, guarantee and defend human rights in accordance with international standards” and that any violation “is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

The Palestinian proposal lost in a 156-35 vote.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at a news conference Wednesday that the congress rejected the amendment because FIFA does defend human rights.

Infantino said the amendment “would actually have endangered what we have done in order to defend human rights.”

“We cannot solve all problems on human rights, but we have an influence,” he said. “Also know that for us, dialogue is always the answer, not confrontation or attacks.”

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