An official in charge of running Iran's Football (soccer) Federation for almost a decade has stepped forward, openly admitting that the association has time and again lied to the world governing body, FIFA about its independence from the government.
Speaking on a local radio show in Tehran, Iran’s football federation (FFIRI) chief (2008-16) 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.
In 2007 Iran added a preface to the FFIRI articles of association claiming that the federation was autonomous and independent from state organs, Kafashian told the radio show, adding that they hoodwinked FIFA to move forward with their agenda.
Meanwhile, Kafashian has called on the FFIRI to stop lying to FIFA and become truly independent from the government.
FIFA has recently warned FFIRI to either modify its articles of association and ensure its independence or expect disciplinary action.
Referring to his dismissal in 2016, Kafashian says that he was a retiree from public service at the time of his appointment as the head of FFIRI, and nobody questioned his presidency.
"Nevertheless, in 2016, the new Minister (of Sport and Youths) did not want me. He argued that as a public-sector pensioner I was not eligible to preside over FFIRI. I reminded him that, for the past eight years, I had been FFIRI president without any legal problem. Yet, he forced me to step down," Kafashian revealed.
This is the first time that a former FFIRI president was openly disclosing the role of a government minister in appointing or dismissing the president of a sports federation in the country.
Since the downfall of the pro-West monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979 in Iran, Kafashian has played a pivotal role in the country's sports.