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Palestinians slam FIFA for chief’s ban over Messi incitement

Argentina v Iceland: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 16: Lionel Messi of Argentina look on during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Iceland at Spartak Stadium on June 16, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) The Palestinian soccer federation is lashing out at FIFA for banning its chief from games for a year for inciting against superstar Lionel Messi as part of his campaign to stop Argentina’s national team from playing in Israel.

The Palestine Football Association says Saturday the decision by international soccer’s ruling body was “absurd and lacking in evidence.” FIFA says Jibril Rajoub “incited hatred and violence” by calling on soccer fans “to target the Argentinian Football Association and burn jerseys and pictures of Lionel Messi.”

Argentina eventually abandoned the trip to Jerusalem for a game against Israel in June. Argentina Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said at the time players felt “totally attacked, violated” after images emerged of the team’s white and sky-blue striped jerseys stained with red paint resembling blood.