PtG Article 27.11.2006

FIFA punishes Iran's government for interfering in football

Iran did not do very well at the recent World Cup in football, so Iran’s government promptly decided to fire the football federation’s president and the entire board and install another president. Now FIFA has responded by banning Iran from international competitions.

FIFA suspended Iran after attempting for several months to get Iran to reinstate Mohammad Dadkan as president of Iran’s football federation. But with little luck. A FIFA deadline of 15 November was passed without any attempts by the Iranians to change their minds.

FIFA maintains that Mohammad Dadkan is the legitimate president of the football federation in Iran, but Dadkan himself was keen to avoid the banning of Iran and therefore offered to officially resign from his post shortly before the FIFA deadline, AFP reports.

”I am just a small part of this great nation. If there is a need for my resignation,  consider me to have resigned along with all my previous staff,” said Dadkan.

According to Reuters, several high-profile managers and coaches have been replaced since president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took over political power in Iran. And the country maintains its right to change the make-up of the football federation. The British newspaper, The Guardian reports that Dadkan at some point received a letter from the country’s physical education organisation which said “We don’t allow federations to become independent islands”.

According to the Iranian Mehr News Agency, a source close to government says that FIFA’s decision to ban the country is ”completely illegitimate.”

”Iran will definitely not accept the decision,” the source said.

Football is very popular in Iran, and according to The Guardian, state involvement is conducted openly. When the national football team prepared for the World Cup, the country’s president took part in training sessions and in recent weeks, Ahmadinejad has ordered state-run banks to extend credit to two indebted clubs.

If Iran wants to be able to play international football again, FIFA wants to Iran to accept a normalisation committee with representatives appointed by FIFA and the Asian Football  Confederation, The committee should draft new statutes on the basis of FIFA’s standard statutes and organise new elections.