Iran still faced with calls for World Cup ban

Leading figures in Iranian football have rejected calls from German parliament members - hosts of the FIFA 2006 World Cup - to disqualify their national football team from this year's finals, Soccer Investor reported (26 Jan).

The MPs - backed by former West German international midfielder and 1974 World Cup winner Wolfgang Overath - suggested that Iran should be banned from taking part following its resumption of nuclear fuel research and the anti-Israel remarks made by the country's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian fans turned out in thousands to meet German club side Bayern Munich when they player Persepolis in a recent friendly. Many were proud to see Ali Karimi - a former Persepolis player now on Bayern Munich - back in his native country. At the time, Bayern's sporting director, Uli Hoeness, said the game did not show support for President Ahmadinejad, and that Bayern were "playing for the people, not for the regime".

And Sayid Ali ipour Hosseini, a writer for the Iranian daily World Of Football, said sports should not mix with politics. "Mr Ahmadinejad didn't qualify for the World Cup, the soccer team did - and the soccer team didn't say anything to be disqualified," he said. "Politics is not football, it's politics

See also: German chancellor will "not push to punish" Iran (20 Jan)