Debate: Should the Iran team be banned from the World Cup?

Can politics be far behind when the World Cup is organized? Now, many EU members are demanding that FIFA ban the Iranian soccer team from playing in the World Cup because their president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has called for Israel’s destruction. One form of exculpation of Germany’s guilt in the Holocaust is to legally proceed against deniers, of whom Ahmedinejad is one of them.
But why should the Iranian players be punished for the statement of their president? They earned the right to play in the World Cup just like other teams that had to go through the qualifying rounds. No Iranian player in public statements has subscribed to the annihilation nor wished ill will against Israel.
This is different from apartheid in South Africa for which they were banned from international sports for decades. That form of discrimination was systematized and targeted the black population on measures best described by the authors of The Bell Curve.
Iran is home to millions of youth that actively oppose the fundamentalism of the elderly clerics in charge of Iran. They are the ones that bring Iran close to the rest of the world with their movies, music, and art. And their soccer. This ban will marginalize this youth movement. Angela Merkel should stay steadfast in her opposition to the demand of a ban on the Iranian team.
Soccer Blog says, “Let Soccer Be the Winner.”

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One comment on “Debate: Should the Iran team be banned from the World Cup?
  1. Shourin,
    Thank you for your elegantly written appeal for Iran’s continued participation in the World Cup finals. Barring Iran from the finals would be a ham-fisted political gesture that would likely engender further bitterness against the West. Moreover, it would be a cruel blow to the players and their supporters (as you rightly acknowledge). I agree that the hearts & minds of Iran’s youth will be won by integrating them into world sport–punishing them for their leadership may close those hearts & minds.

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