Iran dodges AFC sanction as football chief retains position

The Iranian Football Federation stressed that it was a non-governmental organisation after the Asian Football Confederation threatened to sanction it over government interference.

The Iran team at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in India. [Representational Image]   -  Prashant Nakwe

The head of Iran's football federation will retain his position following legal confusion over his retirement and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) threatening to sanction Iran over government interference, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported on Thursday.

It follows the Iranian parliament passing a law barring the employment of retirees in government, state or public institutions which use state funds or facilities.

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According to local media the law applied to the current president of the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) Mahdi Taj and a number of other board members.

“Following the meetings we had with the sports minister and the federation, it was decided that Mr. Taj (would) continue his services at the football federation,” ISNA quoted the head of Iran's Olympic federation Seyed Reza Salehi-Amiri.

“We are on the verge of the AFC Asian Cup and need to muster all our power and capacities for the national team's victory,” he added.

The AFC said in a statement issued on Tuesday it was “closely monitoring the current issues” and the FFIRI stressed it was a non-governmental organisation.

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“The AFC has a zero tolerance policy towards any third party interference in their Member Associations and hopes that, with less than two months to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, the FFIRI can maintain its independence and avoid any sanctions.”

Football's world governing body FIFA suspended Iran from participation in international football in November 2006 on the grounds of government interference in the national football federation. The ban was lifted after less than a month.

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