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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Iranian Sports Minister Accuses UK of a World Cup Sedition Conspiracy

Tehran parliament told plan was for national football team to defect on pitch in Qatar

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IRAN: Without offering any supporting data, the Iranian parliament was informed by the minister of sport and youth that the UK was attempting to have the Iranian national football team quit on the field at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Hamid Sajjadi, the sports minister, told lawmakers that the nation’s adversaries had attempted “the height of sedition.”

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The “Old Fox,” by which he meant the UK, he claimed, had prepared for Iran’s players to leave the field at specific times and attempt to defect.

Sajjadi asserted that the Iranian government had thwarted the plot. In what appears to have been an unsuccessful attempt to prevent an MPs’ vote of censure for the state of the national game after the team was eliminated from the World Cup at the group stage, he was willing to support his assertions in a private session.

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The state security agencies have harassed numerous well-known Iranian footballers for their participation in the nationwide uprisings. But this was the first time a minister made the allegation that a plan to overthrow the Islamic Republic was underway on the field during the competition.

His comments came after Sara Khadem, an Iranian chess player, arrived in Spain on Tuesday after getting warnings, according to a source close to her, not to go back to Iran after competing at an international competition in Kazakhstan without a hijab.

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Khadem, born in 1997, participated in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships last week in Almaty, Kazakhstan, without donning the hijab, which is required for Iranian women to wear as part of their dress code.

Due to the situation’s sensitivity, the source, who wished to remain anonymous, said Khadem after that received numerous phone calls, some of which warned her against going home after the competition. In contrast, others encouraged her to do so and promised to “solve her problem.”

The paranoid atmosphere that enveloped the men’s national team at the World Cup, where many of the players battled competing pressures from demonstrators and officials, is highlighted by the sports minister’s allegations, which are unsupported by any proof.

Despite the allegations, he was censured by the parliament for having permitted high salaries to be paid to coaches and players who were stationed abroad.

Several Iranian footballers have experienced public threats and harassment from the authorities during the last three months.

After publicly endorsing the demonstrators on social media, former Iran national captain Ali Karimi was forced to leave the country.

The judge ordered the confiscation of all of his possessions in Iran. A travel ban has also been placed on Iranian football manager Ali Daei.

Also Read: Iranian Police Detain Top Footballers at New Year’s Eve Party

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