FIFA Investigates Palestinian Soccer Chief for Glorifying Terror

Jibril Rajoub
AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi

TEL AVIV – The international soccer governing body FIFA has launched an investigation into Palestinian soccer chief, Jibril Rajoub, for inciting terror and promoting racism.

Earlier this year, FIFA’s ethics committee sent a letter to Rajoub, who is the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), saying he had violated its rules, including “promoting and glorifying terrorism”; “inciting hatred and violence;” “promoting racism”; and “preventing the use of the game of soccer to build a bridge for peace.”

The investigation was instigated by a 2017 complaint lodged by watchdog group, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

FIFA requested that Rajoub respond individually to each of the points raised in the letter. The letter, which was leaked to a pro-Palestinian website, stated:

To the extent that you dispute any part of the… complaint and allegations, you are hereby requested to submit a statement identifying every point in the complaint allegations that you dispute; an explanation of why you dispute each such point; a description of any and all additional facts you contend, clarify, contradict, or are otherwise relevant to the issue or point in dispute; and all documents, records, or data within your possession, custody, or control that support your position.

It added that Rajoub had been charged with “personally” promoting and glorifying terrorism in an “active and… passive manner.”

It included several examples of Rajoub’s violations, including PFA soccer events and teams that were named after terrorists involved in the murder of Israelis.

It cited Rajoub as praising terrorists for their acts of “bravery” and saying he was “proud” of them.

Rajoub was also accused of encouraging the Hamas terror group to abduct Israeli soldiers, citing the soccer chief as saying, “If Hamas wants to kidnap soldiers, let them kidnap soldiers….Kidnapping is the language they understand. On the contrary, we encourage [Hamas].”

According to PMW, if Rajoub is found guilty of the charges he will face heavy fines and a ban on taking part in any soccer-related activities for up to five years.

PMW director Itamar Marcus said he welcomed the investigation by FIFA. He continued:

It is demeaning for FIFA to allow a terrorist supporter who uses vile racist language to have any position attached to FIFA’s good name. Instead of using the beautiful game to build bridges and promote peace and coexistence, Rajoub uses his position to incite violence and to promote and glorify terrorism. I am hopeful that FIFA will now, once and for all, permanently remove Rajoub from any position in FIFA, and cleanse this stain on international football.

Last year, FIFA suspended Rajoub for a year and fined him 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,340) for calling on fans to burn images and jerseys of Lionel Messi as part of a campaign to stop the Argentinian national team from playing in Israel.

Rajoub, who also serves as the Palestinian Authority’s representative to the International Olympic Committee, is a former terrorist who has served time in Israeli jails, routinely glorifies terror and has referred to Jews as “Satan.”

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