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Palestinian soccer chief: Ban for Messi comments ‘political,’ pushed by Israel

The head of the Palestinian football association is pledging to appeal against FIFA’s 12-month ban for comments he made about Lionel Messi, calling it an “unjust and political decision.”

FIFA last month banned Jibril Rajoub from attending matches for a year and fined him 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,600, 17,700 euros) for “inciting hatred and violence” after calling on fans to burn pictures and jerseys of Barcelona star Messi in the build-up to a friendly game with Israel. The game was later canceled after Argentina withdrew.

In his first press conference since the ban was announced, Rajoub denies wrongdoing.

“This is an unjust and political decision, an Israeli decision,” he says, pointing out the complaint came from the Israeli FA, not the Argentinians.

“Of course we respect the FIFA committees and will continue to respect them and abide by their decisions. On this basis we have decided to appeal and we will continue our efforts to fight the injustice occurring against the Palestinian union and the Palestinian players.”

“We had hoped that FIFA would work to end the suffering of Palestinian athletes,” he adds.

— AFP

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