“An eye for an eye,” according to Iran, whose Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki explained that the United States, Britain and France lost in the World Cup because they backed United Nations Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
"In this World Cup you see a meaningful correlation between politics and diplomacy and football," Mottaki was quoted as saying by Tehran Emrouz newspaper.
"Those who played a key role in new sanctions against Iran such as America, England and France were eliminated in the early stages and some countries that were involved in sanctions in any way did not get into higher rounds," he said, seemingly invoking a higher causality than the level of the teams playing out on the field.
However, he did not explain why Iran, on its part, was not able to win enough games to enter the competition at all and why in 2006, it played in the World Cup but failed to reach the second round.
Former Iranian team captain Karim Bagheri was more down to earth, saying “Teams who want to be in World Cup must earn that right and to be honest Iran was never missed from that tournament.”