FIFA asked to ban anti-Israel Iranian soccer player

Soccer fans file complaint FIFA against Iranian forward who reposted Khamenei's anti-Israel tweet.

Elad Benari ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)

Soccer fans have filed a complaint with FIFA, the governing body of soccer, against Iranian forward Mehdi Taremi, a year after he reposted a tweet from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying Israel would not exist in 25 years.

According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, the fans are calling on FIFA to ban Taremi from playing for the Iranian national team in the 2018 World Cup, which is currently taking place in Russia.

The hashtag #BanTaremi went viral, with hundreds of Twitter users criticizing Taremi's endorsement of Israel's destruction. Many of those calling for his ban are Iranian citizens, some exiles.

As a result of the outcry, Taremi rushed to delete the tweet, reported Yediot Aharonot.

One user on Twitter wrote, "This man is one of the players of Iran's dictatorship team, and he is wishing for Iran's annihilation like his murderous leader Khamenei. The real Iranian people condemn his actions and demand his suspension from the games."

Another wrote to FIFA: "The Iranian people want to report to you on one of the players of the Iranian team called Mehdi Taremi, who tweeted a terrorist threat against the State of Israel. We urge you to expel him from the 2018 World Cup, so our team is not involved in such political issues."

Emmanuel Nahshon, the spokesman of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that "for the sake of his team, it's best if Taremi focused on soccer and not on echoing ugly and illegitimate calls against the State of Israel."

Iranian officials consistently threaten to destroy Israel. Khamenei himself has referred to Israel as a “cancer” and in the past threatened to "annihilate" the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Just last week, the Iranian Supreme Leader launched a Twitter tirade against Israel, saying that “the Zionist regime will perish in the not-so-far future.”

Iran, which does not recognize Israel, prohibits athletes or competitors in other fields from competing against Israelis.

Last November, Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi Mashiani deliberately lost a match at the under-23 world championships in Poland in order to avoid an Israeli opponent in the next round. Mashiani was given a six-month ban by the United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber and his coach was banned for two years.

Last August, two Iranian soccer players were criticized in Iran after they appeared for their Greek club Panionios in a Europa League qualifier against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The two were initially banned for life from the Iranian national team as a punishment, but Iran appeared to cancel the ban after a huge outcry from soccer fans on social media and the launch of an investigation by FIFA.