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Monday, January 16, 2006

World Cup Soccer Goes Nuclear

If Iran weren't finding their World Cup Final preparations difficult enough already (no one wants to play friendlies against them), now there are calls for Iran to be excluded from football's biggest competition altogether.

Why ? What have Iran done to invoke the wrath of Sepp Blatter and FIFA ? Um, well, nothing. But the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to continue with their nuclear programme and isn't afraid to say so. This and some of his more fundamentalist speeches have angered and concerned many Western countries. As a consequence, a bunch of minor league European politicians are calling for
Iran to be thrown out of the World Cup.

As reported in
Deutsche Welle, Angelika Beer, a European Green parliamentarian, said that a country with such a president "has no business at the World Cup." Similarly unimportant politicians desperately trying to make a name for themselves from other countries have made similar statements.

I don't want to get into the rights and wrongs of what Mahmoud is doing but I will say this. Iran have every right to be at the World Cup. They qualified - they should be there. Surely, this kind of sanction would impact only ordinary Iranian people not to mention the millions more around the world who want to see a fair World Cup Finals that is about football. Not politics.

Luckily, FIFA agrees with me. FIFA spokesman John Schumacher is quoted on BBC radio as saying "Fifa is a sporting organization and not a political one."

The World Cup should be a celebration of soccer, not a political tool. It's good to know that FIFA are unlikely to back down on this.

posted by mark_s at 3:13 PM


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