FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, has demanded an explanation for Iranian judicial authorities' prosecution of the country’s football federation board.
The Iranian Football Federation is facing a potential suspension for the country’s potential legal actions against the federation’s board of directors, as well as numerous financial issues, deceptions in translating its charter into English and banning Iranian women from entering soccer arenas across Iran.
In a joint letter, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have expressed their objection to Iran legally threatening and intimidating individuals using the power of legal authorities outside the soccer domain.
After Iran was sentenced to pay 6.2 million euros ($7.4 million) to the former head coach of the Iranian national team, the Belgian national Marc Robert Wilmots, the State Inspectorate Organization of Iran referred eight people from the federation’s board of directors as "defendants in the Wilmots' case" to the Tehran Prosecutor's Office.
The eight, including the Football Federation’s former president, Mehdi Taj, are charged with "damaging state property and public rights."
The prosecutor has demanded the defendants to provide a list of their assets and properties, with the Iran Sports newspaper reporting that, based on the Islamic Penal Code, they may be sentenced to pay 2,300 billion rials (about $55 million) in principal plus the same amount for a fine.
FIFA's Secretary-General has given Iran until September 2 to provide the necessary evidence to FIFA and AFC to support the allegations made against these individuals.
The joint letter, signed by FIFA's Secretary-General, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura and AFC Secretary-General Dato Windsor John, warns that "FIFA members must address their issues independently. Any violation of this clause could lead to penalties, including the suspension of the member federation."
In April, Ali Kafashian, the former chairman of the Iranian Football Federation, admitted that the association had frequently lied to FIFA about its independence from the government.
Speaking on a local radio show in Tehran, Kafashian, who was in charge of the federation for almost a decade, claimed that despite FIFA's regulations, the Iranian soccer association has always been under the government's direct control.
FIFA rules dictate that a national football federation should remain autonomous and independent of the government.