Sport & Culture

Iran Sanctions Draw ‘Red Card’ in Football

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Sport & Culture

Iran Sanctions Draw ‘Red Card’ in Football

In Iran, life hurts under U.S.-led sanctions. As John Duerden writes, sanctions also hurt football.

The U.S.-led sanctions against Iran are reportedly having a considerable impact on the life of ordinary Iranians. There are also consequences for the country’s favorite sport of football.

A ban on financial transactions with Iranian banks is causing problems.

Iranian referees who have worked in international games have had problems drawing payments and the Asian Football Confederation tried to transfer $1 million to the Iranian Football Federation (IFF) recently but was unable to do so.

Ali Kafashian, the IFF’s president, was quoted as saying the following:

“Iranian Football Federation is an NGO and it’s not a governmental association. But Iran’s enemies are trying hard to put pressure on Iran’s football which is one of the most loved sports in the country. Our enemies [have] made several problems for Iranian Football Federation but they cannot hurt our move forward.”

Along with financial problems, there are other issues.

The dispute between United Arab Emirates and Iran over the three islands in the Strait of Hormuz has once again spread into of world of football.

The initial spat led to the cancellation of a friendly game between the two in April.

It’s all about a dispute over the tiny but resource-rich Abu Musa island, as well as the nearby Greater and Lesser Tunb islands.

All three came under Iranian control in 1971 after the departure of the British, but the UAE also claim the islands. All are close to the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, a narrow body of water that sees about one fifth of the world’s oil pass through on a daily basis.

In the past three months, however, relations between the two countries have not improved.

According to Kafashian, the UAE has told its professional football clubs not to sign Iranian players.

What seems to be informal soccer sanctions is a setback for the Iranian game, as the UAE is often the first and only experience many of the country’s players have of overseas play.

Legends such as Ali Daei, Javad Nekounam and Ali Karimi all have appeared in the UAE league at some point in their careers.

Recently, the loan of international Mohammad Reza Khalatbari at Dubai’s Al Wasl was not renewed and other stars such as Iman Mobali and Pejman Nouri have left the country.