The Football Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) has strongly condemned Iranian professional footballers Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Haji Safi, who play for the Greek association football club Panionios Gymnastikos Syllogos Smyrnis, commonly known as Panionios GSS FC, for participating in a match against an Israeli team.
“Despite numerous negotiations with the two soccer players and all the pressure that the Greek club had placed on them, the pair refused to appear in the first-leg match held in the occupied Palestinian lands.
“Nevertheless, the Football Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran censures their participation in last night’s second-leg match (against Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv), and all aspects of the issue are under investigation,” the FFIRI said in a statement released on Friday.
Iran’s Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, in a separate statement, also announced that support for the long-trodden Palestinian nation, Palestinian cause and anti-Zionism front have been among the principled policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the ministry does not recognize the “illegitimate” regime of Israel at all.
The ministry added that it will take proper punitive measures against Shojaei and Haji Safi once all relevant and useful information has been gathered, stressing that the measures will fall within the framework of the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Panionios GSS FC 1-0 in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Europa League match at the Stadio Néas Smírnis stadium in the Greek capital city of Athens on Thursday evening.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed Israel as the “main threat” to the Muslim world, warning that the regime is trying to Judaize the occupied Palestinian lands.
On August 1, he called on Muslim and regional countries to be vigilant and prevent Israel from distracting the Islamic world’s attention from the “main threat” facing the region.
Israel continues its policy of occupation through efforts “to change the identity and the status of the occupied territories and Judaize these areas,” Zarif added.