Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration) iStock

Soccer Canada has cancelled a controversial “friendly match" against the Iranian national team scheduled for June 5 in Vancouver after B’nai Brith Canada filed an order in Federal Court seeking to prohibit Canadian funds from going to the Iranian Football Federation.

Earlier in the week, B’nai Brith slammed Soccer Canada when it was revealed the national governing body for soccer was planning to provide $400,000 to the Iranian Football Federation to cover the team’s expenses for the match.

The stipend was heavily criticized as Canada Soccer is subsidized mainly by the Canadian government, meaning taxpayers would be giving the Iranian team $400,000. A report by Iran International said that the team would only need to spend $200,000. The report stated the team would simply pocket the remaining $200,000.

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn explained on Thursday that despite the cancellation of the exhibition match, his organization was intent on making sure that no Canadian money was transferred to Iran.

“If there is any money earmarked for Iran, we have major problems with that,” Mostyn said. “We would do everything in our power to ensure that any money planned for Iran would instead go to the Canadian families of those who were killed in the shooting down of Flight PS752.”

B’nai Brith noted in a statement that there have been credible reports that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) controls the Iranian Football Federation. The IRGC is recognized as a terrorist entity by many countries. Nearly four years have gone by since a Canadian parliamentary motion to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity passed but the government has yet to take action.

Ehsan Kalhor, Iran’s deputy sports minister, said that in response the Iranian Football Federation is suing Canada for $10 million in damages for cancelling the FIFA World CUP Qatar 2022 friendly match.

“The unilateral cancellation of the Iran-Canada match by the Canadian Football Federation once again showed that the slogan of non-political sport is a cover for the interests of Western countries,” Kalhor said in a tweet on Thursday. “According to the contract, the Iranian Football Federation will pursue a $10 million compensation claim for the unilateral cancellation of the game through legal channels.”

Kalhor’s tweet came shortly after Canada Soccer announced it was cancelling the match over pressure from advocacy groups such as B’nai Brith and the family members of victims of Flight PS752.

“Canada Soccer has cancelled the international match that was scheduled for 5 June 2022 against Iran as part of the Men’s National Team preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” Canada Soccer tweeted. “Additional details will be provided to all ticket purchasers.”

From the start, the families had called on Canada Soccer to cancel the match, saying it was an insult to the memories of their loved ones who perished when the plane went down, CBC News reported.

Flight PS752 was shot down by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard with surface-to-air missiles in 2020.

They also called on the Canadian government to refuse entry visas to players, coaches and others travelling with the Iranian team.

B’nai Brith’s lawyer Richard Kurland said that he was extremely pleased that the threat of a lawsuit resulted in the cancellation of the game.

“It shows the currency of the name B’nai Brith when it comes to litigation,” Kurland said.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)