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    Palestinian Football Chief Banned by FIFA for Calling to Burn Messi Shirts

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    The decision by Argentina to play a pre-World Cup June friendly with Israel in Jerusalem sparked an angry backlash by Palestinians who claim the eastern part of the city, annexed by Israel, to be the capital of their future state.

    The president of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub has been banned for a year by FIFA for urging fans to burn Lionel Messi’s shirts and pictures as part of a campaign to stop Argentina’s national team from ever playing in the Jewish State.

    In a statement released on Friday, world football's governing body said Rajoub's call amounted to incitement of "hatred and violence."

    "The 12-month match suspension imposed on Mr. Rajoub entails a ban on taking part in any future match or competition taking place during the given period," the statement said.

    The ban prevents Rajoub from attending games or engaging with the media at or near stadiums on match days for a year.

    Jibril Rajoub, who is also the head of Palestinian Olympic Committee, will have to pay a $20,000 fine.
    Israeli authorities moved the match to Jerusalem from its original venue of Haifa, which further angered Palestinians.

    Speaking in June, Jibril Rajoub urged Lionel Messi not to play in the game in Jerusalem and called on fans to burn shirts bearing his name if he did.

    "He [Messi] is a big symbol so we are going to target him personally and we call on all to burn his picture and his shirt and to abandon him."

    "We still hope that Messi will not come," he added.

    Rajoub also said he had written to Argentina's government asking that Messi not take part in the June 9 friendly.

    The angry protests by Palestinians eventually forced Argentina to cancel the Jerusalem friendly.

    READ MORE: Argentina, Don't Go! Call to Boycott Soccer Game in Israel Stirs Reactions

    Related:

    Italian Dep. PM Backs Israel As Argentina Scraps Game in Jerusalem Amid Threats
    Argentina, Don't Go! Call to Boycott Soccer Game in Israel Stirs Reactions
    Tags:
    Lionel Messi, incitement for hatred, ban, FIFA, Jibril Rajoub, Palestine
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