Palestine football chief Jibril Rajoub loses appeal against Fifa ban over Lionel Messi

International court upholds 1-year suspension and fine for PFA president over comments about Argentina superstar

FILE PHOTO: Jibril Al Rajoub, President of Palestinian Football Association, addresses the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo
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Palestine Football Association President Jibril Rajoub has had his appeal against a one-year ban from football over comments about Argentina and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi rejected by the International Court of Arbitration.

The football chief called on fans to burn any shirt bearing the footballers name ahead of a planned match between Argentina and Israel in the contested city of Jerusalem. Argentina eventually cancelled the match after caving to the pressure of a boycott campaign.

Fifa, the world's football body, banned him from attending matches for one year and fined him $20,600 in August 2018. It accused him of inciting hatred towards the player.

He appealed the ban, saying at the time that "this is an unjust and political decision, an Israeli decision". But it was outright rejected by the quasi-judicial court that handles sports disputes.

“After taking due consideration of all the evidence produced and all arguments made, the CAS Panel found that Jibril Rajoub had failed to establish that any procedural violations were committed in the proceedings… that could justify the annulment of such decisions,” the court said in a statement.

The State of Palestine is a recognised member of the world body and sections of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict can play out in the sporting arena. The PFA said that the complaint was not put forward by Argentina but Israel for political reasons.

Mr Rajoub was not permitted a hearing by Fifa and the PFA said that evidence provided to the global footballing body was not considering before the ban was handed down.

He can still run the organisation during the ban, which expires next month, and he can attend Fifa meetings as the president of the organisation.

His ban ends on August 23 just days before the Palestinian national team's first 2022 World Cup qualifying game against Uzbekistan on September 5.