Culture Minister Miri Regev expressed her satisfaction Friday with soccer federation FIFA's decision to suspend PA soccer federation head Jibril Rajoub for 12 months. The move came as punishment for Rajoub's calls to burn Lionel Messi shirts and photos, in order to pressure the soccer megastar to cancel a planned friendly match with Israel in June.
"FIFA's management did what was expected of it and what was required of it and ruled that there is no room for terrorists who incite and call for violence in the soccer world," said Regev.
She added that with its decision, "FIFA has torn off the mask of the terrorist Rajoub, and proven what many here refused to recognize: the reason for the cancellation of the friendly game between Israel and Argentina was the well-timed scare campaign mounted by Rajoub and his men, who threatened the lives of Messi and the rest of the Argentinian team – and not the decision to hold the game in Jerusalem."
"There is no room for politics in the world of sport!", Regev stated. "There is no place for terror in the world of sport! Rajoub's place is behind bars and not in the seats of honor in the soccer stadiums and the halls of FIFA."
Regev had been lambasted by some Israelis who said that her insistence on holding the friendly game in Jerusalem played into the PA's hands and led to the game's eventual cancellation.