By Andrew Warshaw
October 25 – FIFA is coming under further pressure to kick Iran out of next month’s World Cup – this time because of its military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Already urged by human rights groups to expel Iran over its brutal crackdown on the wave of anti-government protests at home, FIFA has now been contacted by Ukraine’s top club calling for the same action.
FIFA banned Russia and Belarus from international competition in February following the invasion of Ukraine. And now Shakhtar Donetsk want Iran to be handed the same punishment following the country’s “direct participation in terrorist attacks on Urkrainians” and accusations that the country had supplied “Kamikaze” drones to Russia.
Shakhtar’s CEO Sergei Palkin says Iran should be banned and replaced by Ukraine, who were defeated by Wales in a play-off in June.
“Shakhtar… calls on FIFA and the entire international community to immediately ban Iran’s national team from playing at the World Cup for the country’s direct participation in terrorist attacks on Ukrainians,” Palkin said.
“This will be a fair decision that should draw the attention of the whole world to a regime that kills its best people and helps kill Ukrainians.
“The vacant place should be taken by the national team of Ukraine, which proved that it is worthy of participation. With unequal conditions with other national teams during the play-offs, they played with their heart.”
Due to Russia’s incursion into the Donbas region, Shakhtar is having to play its home game games in this season’s Champions League in the Polish capital Warsaw. The club has not played in its home city Donetsk since 2014.
Despite the separate calls for Iran to be thrown out, it is highly unlikely FIFA would take such radical action with the tournament so close and all the logistical arrangements in place.
Besides which the draw would have to be revamped and Iran’s group opponents – England, Wales and the United States – would have to totally rethink their preparations. Plus it would be nigh impossible to decide which country should replace Iran which qualified as one of Asia’s teams.
But Palkin charged: “While the Iranian leadership will have fun watching their national team play at the World Cup, Ukrainians will be killed by Iranian drones and Iranian missiles. Almost 250 such drones have already attacked peaceful cities of Ukraine.”
“Each of them was produced, delivered by the Iranian authorities, Iranian instructors and the military directly trained and managed the launches of drones that destroyed homes, museums, universities, offices, sports grounds and playgrounds, and most importantly, killed Ukrainians.”
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