Palestinian football chief investigated for terror incitement

Two years after a complaint was filed, the world football association investigates Jibril Rajoub’s promotion of terror against Israelis.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

FIFA’s ethics committee has launched an investigation against the head of the Palestine Football Association (PFA) over allegations that he violated several of its bylaws by supporting terrorism.

In a January letter, the international football association demanded that PFA chief Jibril Rajoub respond to accusations that he personally incited violence and glorified terrorism against Israel in several specified instances.

Information on the probe was leaked last week by the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian website that apparently tried to defend Rajoub by denigrating the complainant, Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

In 2017, Marcus sent FIFA a 33-page dossier detailing Rajoub’s active and passive breaches of FIFA statutes, such as the requirement to respect human rights. Many examples were included of statements made by the Palestinian soccer chief over several years in public forums that incited violence against Israelis and glorified specific terrorists.

PMW also pointed out that under Rajoub’s leadership, the PFA names annual football tournaments and teams after terrorists.

It is unclear why FIFA began its probe only a few months ago. But the letter from the organization’s chief of ethics investigations, Martin N’goga, stated that based on the evidence PMW provided, “there is a prima facie case that you may have committed violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”

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N’goga demanded that Rajoub provide an explanation for each point raised. The PFA head has yet to make any public response.

In reaction to the publication of the FIFA letter, Marcus issued a statement, saying, “It is demeaning for FIFA to allow a terror 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 co-existence, Rajoub uses his position to incite violence and to promote and glorify terror.

“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.”

The FIFA Disciplinary Code states that the punishment for an official “who publicly incites other to hatred or violence” is at least a 12-month match suspension and a fine, which “in serious cases” is a minimum of 20,000 Swiss francs (CHF).

Rajoub is currently serving a year-long suspension from FIFA games and was given a fine of 20,000 CHF for his role last year in threatening the Argentinian national team with physical danger if they came to Israel to play a friendly match. The team canceled the event as a result.