Iran to protest ban of wrestler who boycotted Israeli

Iran’s wrestling federation to protest decision to ban one of its wrestlers for deliberately throwing a match to avoid fighting an Israeli.

Elad Benari ,

Boxing ring
Boxing ring

Iran’s wrestling federation announced on Saturday it will protest a decision to ban one of its wrestlers and the national coach for deliberately throwing a match to avoid fighting an Israeli opponent, AFP reports.

Wrestler Alireza Karimi Mashiani intentionally lost a match against his Russian opponent in the under-23 world championships in Poland in November to avoid fighting Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov in the next round.

Karimi Mashiani received the backing of his government and the Iranian wrestling federation. The government hailed his actions as “noble and heroic.”

On Friday, the United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber banned Karimi Mashiani from competition for six months, and his coach Hamidreza Jamshidi for two years, according to AFP.

“The federation will protest the verdict,” Iran Wrestling Federation president Rasoul Khadem said on state television later the same day.

Khadem blamed the ban on pressure from the International Olympic Committee, which he said was itself “under the influence of big political and economic powers of the world”.

Karimi Mashiani also refused to take the mat against an Israeli opponent at the World Championships in Hungary in 2013, noted AFP.

The United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber found that Karimi Mashiani “on instruction of his coach Jamshidi, willfully lost his quarter finals match”.

“Both wrestler and coach were found to have acted in direct violation of the International Wrestling Rules and the UWW Disciplinary Regulations,” it said in a statement.

The Islamic Republic does not recognize Israel and forbids its sportsmen from competing against Israelis.

Last summer, Iran dropped two soccer players from its national team after they played against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv for their Greek club Panionios.

Iran later appeared to cancel the ban after a huge outcry from soccer fans on social media and the launch of an investigation by FIFA, which has rules against political interference in national teams.

Last February, a 15-year-old Iranian chess player was banned from the national team after he played against an Israeli opponent at an international chess event.

In 2011, Iranian chessmaster Ehsan Ghaem Maghami was expelled from an international chess tournament after refusing to play an Israeli opponent.

Last year, an Iranian refused to compete against an Israeli at a chess tournament in Switzerland in order to reject the existence of "the Zionist state".

In 2010, an Iranian contestant withdrew from a Taekwondo match against Israel’s Gili Haimovitz, who won a gold medal by default.

In 2012, Iranian athletes announced their intention to boycott competitions against Israelis at the London Olympics.