Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub, who serves as President of the Palestinian Football Association and as Head of the Palestine Olympic Committee, called on Lionel Messi fans to burn their Messi jerseys and "wash their hands of him," to protest a soccer match between the Israeli and Argentinian national squads, part of the Argentinian preparations for the upcoming World Cup. Calling the match an attempt "to whitewash Israeli racism and fascism," Rajoub further said: "I don't think that there is any difference between what is happening today and what happened in Europe in the 1930s." His remarks were broadcast on Al-Jazeera on June 3.
Jibril Rajoub: "You have all heard about the upcoming soccer match between the national teams of Argentina and Israel. It has clearly turned from a sports match into a political tool. The Israeli government is trying to portray this sports event in a political light, by insisting on holding the match in Jerusalem.
"For our part, given what we have heard, and since we cannot, under any circumstances, agree to this match, we will launch, as of today, a campaign targeting the Argentinian [Football] Federation, and in particular targeting [Lionel] Messi, who has tens of millions of fans in Arab and Islamic countries, in Asia, Africa, and in countries that are friends of the Palestinian people. [For these fans] he used to be a symbol and big deal. We are going to target Messi, and we are going to ask everybody to burn their Messi T-shirts and pictures, and to wash their hands of him. But we are still hoping that Messi will not show up on Thursday, and will not serve to whitewash the crimes of the occupation.
"This is not a match for peace. Rather, it is a political match, which is meant to whitewash Israeli racism and fascism. I don't think that there is any difference between what is happening today and what happened in Europe in the 1930s.
"First of all, the whole of Jerusalem, East and West, according to the Partition Resolution, should be under the responsibility of an international mechanism. Second, following the annexation of East Jerusalem in '67, and this crazy unilateral resolution by Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people – which does not even exist in history this term... We think that the game is a political event."