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FIFA Threatens Iran With Suspension From World Football

Iranian women cheer during the FIFIA World Cup qualification match between Iran and Cambodia, after FIFA pressured Iran to allow women enter Azadi stadium in Tehran, Iran October 10, 2019.

FIFA, the international governing body of football (soccer), has set a short deadline for the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) to either amend its statues or face global suspension.

In a letter received on May 29, FIFA has objected to FFIRI's recently drafted statues, demanding its amendment according to FIFA's rules. FFIRI has until June 5 to comply or face an international suspension, the state-run Mehr News Agency reported on May 30.

FFIRI submitted its updated draft statues to FIFA in mid-May. FIFA had previously banned FFIRI from holding its elections due to concerns over potential government interference in its affairs.

Earlier, in April, an official in charge of running Iran's Football (soccer) Federation for almost a decade had stepped forward, openly admitting that the association had frequently lied to the world governing body about its independence from the government.

Speaking on a local radio show in Tehran, Iran’s former football chief Ali Kafashian declared that despite FIFA's regulations, the Iranian soccer association has always been under the government's direct control.

FIFA rules decree that a national football federation should remain autonomous and independent from the national government.

Mehr’s report does not mention FIFA's objections in detail but says the letter refers to eighty cases that should be addressed, including reducing the role of the Islamic Republic's sports minister in deciding FFIRI internal affairs.

Moreover, one of the main objections that FIFA has made to FFIRI’s amended statutes is that the federation's independence is not mentioned in the draft.

The statutes should explicitly state that no external organization -in this case, the government - has the right to interfere in the football affairs, FIFA has asserted in the letter.

"We deem that a failure to comply with this directive would result in the matter being brought to the attention of the relevant FIFA bodies for further action," the letter reads.