Group of prominent Iranian sports figures in Iran calls on FIFA to ban Iran Football Federation from World Cup


A law firm has sent a letter to FIFA on behalf of a group of former and current Iranian athletes, calling on the Football Federation to suspend the Football Federation of Iran (FFIRI) and ban it from participating in this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

“Iran’s brutality and belligerence towards its own people has reached an inflection point and calls for a clear and decisive distancing from the football and sporting world,” read a press release released with the letter.

“FIFA’s historic abstinence from political quagmires has often only been tolerated when those situations do not spill over into the arena of football… Football, which should be a safe place for everyone, is not a safe place for women or even men.

“Women have been consistently denied access to stadiums across the country and have been systematically excluded from the football ecosystem in Iran, in stark contrast to FIFA’s values ​​and statutes.”

The letter said the Iranian Football Federation’s actions violated FIFA statutes and regulations.

CNN has reached out to FIFA and FFIRI for comment.

In September, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by the country’s vice squad for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Iranian authorities have since unleashed a crackdown on protesters who have aligned themselves with the country’s authoritarian regime over a series of grievances.

The letter, from Spanish law firm Ruiz-Huerta and Crespo, is signed by Mohammad Reza Faghani, a FIFA-licensed referee, Vahid Sarlak, Asian judo champion and member of the Iran national team, and Shiva Amini, former women’s futsal team player, among others.

The World Cup will take place from November 20th to December 18th. Iran meet England in their first game of football’s flagship event on November 21, followed by a game against Wales on November 25. The nation will also play the United States in their third game and final group stage game on November 29th.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly named four Iranian players and former players as those who signed the letter sent by Spanish law firm Ruiz-Huerta and Crespo.