ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Member of the Iranian Parliament has called for a life ban against a footballer who played against an Israeli team during a UEFA Europa League match last year.
Iranian footballer Masoud Shojaei, who plays for Greek club Panionios, was recently called up to represent the Iranian national team in a 1-0 friendly loss against Tunisia.
The decision to recall Shojaei prompted conservative lawmaker Mohammad Ali Poormokhtar to urge the Iranian sports federation to impose a life-ban on the 33-year-old.
Shojaei, as well as teammate Ehsan Haji Safi, were criticized after they played in a Europa League qualifier for Panionios in late August against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.
At the time, Deputy Sports Minister Mohammad Reza Davarzani said the two footballers would be banned for life.
There was confusion following the incident as Haji Safi never received a ban from the international squad while Shojaei had missed all the national team fixtures until Friday’s loss to Tunisia.
“Re-inviting Masoud Shojaei to be present in the national football team – after competing against the Zionist regime – shows that the football federation has not taken serious action on this issue,” lawmaker Poormokhtar was quoted as saying by AFP.
In the past, many Iranian athletes have been encouraged to avoid Israelis in sporting competition, even if it means disqualification.
In November 2017, Iranian freestyle wrestler Alireza Karimi purposefully threw a match, leading to an eventual six-month ban by the United World Wrestling (UWW) governing body following an investigation.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an Iranian swimmer refused to enter the same pool as an Israeli.
At the 2004 Athens Games, an Iranian judoka athlete was disqualified when he refused to face an Israeli opponent.