Mustafa AY – TDO – 12.08.2017 Recently, Iranian government has made an interesting decision related to Israel. Two Iranian soccer players named ‘Ehsan Hajisafi’ and ‘Masoud Shojaei’ in Greek team Panionios competed against Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv in Europe League third qualifying round. Following the match, Tehran administration got frustrated with that those Iranian footballers played against an Israeli team. Mohammad Reza Davarzani, Iran’s Deputy Sport Minister, issued a life-long ban from the Iranian National Team to those players. This decision prompted Iranian’s irritation once this decision was heard of. Many Iranian citizens shared their anger in Twitter account named ‘PersianFootball.com’ by tweeting “We are supporting you two footballers representing us abroad. Iran’s both interior and foreign affairs have no place in this game, and also should never be.”
The rationale behind this decision of Tehran is lying on the ground that two Iranian footballers contesting against Israeli team indirectly recognize the Jewish State of Israel. For this reason, Iran exhibited a different approach above its own players against Israel. Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini, Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Spokesman, expressed that it’s not only about legal recognition of Israel by Iran, but at the same time, there are other details on which should be focused. Spokesman proceeded with his sentence as “we are pleased to send our athletes to Olympic-like games covering many nations. This sort of contestations serves for humanity. But, as for Zionist Israel notorious for persecution, atrocity, invasion and betrayal, we can’t allow our athletes to play against this country”. The concern of Tehran arising in this situation can be misunderstood as if Iran had legitimized Israel’s crimes against humanity by recognizing it, through Iranian players.