Iran Bans Two Soccer Stars for Playing Against Israelis

Iran Bans Two Soccer Stars for Playing Against Israelis

- in Soccer

Last year, the Iranian Olympian Alireza Khojasteh withdrew from the judo competition at the Rio Games, citing personal reasons. It is widely thought that he did so to avoid the possibility of facing an Israeli opponent.

It took Iranian officials more than a week to announce the suspension of the two soccer players, who both played the full 90 minutes in their team’s 0-1 defeat in the second leg of a home-and-away series in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round. Iran’s Parliament, in a special meeting of the foreign policy committee on Sunday, had already denounced the two players.


Ehsan Haji Safi, left, played for Panionios of Greece last week in Athens wearing a wristband representing the Iranian flag in his team’s game against Eyal Golasa and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Panagiotis Moschandreou/European Pressphoto Agency

“Agreeing to play in a game against athletes of a regime that has given humanity nothing other than occupation, murder, aggression and betrayal is disrespectful of the rights of thousands of martyrs and those displaced and affected by the…