Footbal Bluffing

Bluffing about Boycotting Iranian football and its Destructive Effects on the National Revolution

A note from the Association of Iranian Athletes for Freedom

Perhaps, not all, but a considerable number of Iranian athletes are wholeheartedly committed to Iran and the solidarity of the Iranian people. It is impossible to appear in international sports events without the love of the country. Hence, the honors achieved by the athletes are manifested as Persophilia and remain everlasting. The repeated public protests are a testament to this claim; from the green and black ribbons worn on the wrist by the athletes in sports arenas in support of their fellow citizens to refusing to sing the Islamic Republic anthem that has turned into a campaign in the recent couple of years.

Regardless of the few athletes who serve the political ends of the Islamic Republic regime, if other athletes did not support the protesting demands of the people, they did not oppose them either. In this respect, it is important to acknowledge that bluffing about boycotting Iran’s football had created a lofty wall to instigate doubt in many to join this revolution, right when the Mahsa uprising had opened its arms to people from all walks of life. Nonetheless, the more Armin Ghobadi Pasha, the host of the Chand Chand program on Iran International Television, increased the number of hours he reported about this football boycotting campaign, the more the Iranian sports fans, especially football players distanced themselves from it. It reached a point where no football player joined this campaign, especially as the constructive efforts of Iran’s Prince Reza Pahlavi and some political elites in paving the way for a national reconciliation with those not involved in the killings and crimes became more vigorous, athletes in general avoided joining such campaigns.

On October 20th, 2022, a piece of news was published on the website of Iran International TV claiming that Masih Alinejad in collaboration with a Spanish legal firm, submitted an official request to FIFA for the immediate suspension of the Iranian Football Federation and boycott of the Iranian team to attend the 2022 World Cup. Two days later, on October 22nd, 2022, Fardad Farahzad, a presenter in the same television channel, by rereading Alinejad’s tweet, acknowledged that many athletes supported this request and the financial cost of it was paid by a number of benevolent lawyers. Although the financial source of this campaign never became clear or the identity of the benevolent lawyers who were willing to accept the astronomical cost of boycotting Iranian football. Of course, the TV presenters as well, were not adamant on posing such questions, but in the meantime, Ali Daei, a football star in the history of Iranian football, in a conversation with Euronews, emphasized that whoever listed his name among the signatures in this petition, was wrong and should not have done so.

Although Juan de Dios Crespo, the attorney in this case, appeared on television and promised that if FIFA did not consider this request, they would file a suit in the Court of Attribution for Sport (CAS) and gave hopes that the success rate of this request were very high, but since it was not addressed by FIFA and the presence of Iranian footballers in Qatar seemed certain, the coverage of this campaign also stopped by the pro-boycott media. This is while the main question still remains valid. If boycotting Iran’s football was not a bluff, then what was it?

SportsEmic editorial team – March 2024