Iran asks FIFA to ban Israel over war in Gaza

Iran’s football federation said Saturday it has asked world football’s governing body, FIFA, to suspend Israel’s football federation over the country’s war in Gaza.

In an announcement posted on the Iranian football federation’s website, Iran asked FIFA to “completely suspend” the Israeli federation “from all activities related to football”.

The request also asks for “immediate and serious measures” by FIFA and its member associations “to prevent the continuation” of the Israeli “crimes and provide food, drinking water, medicinal and medical supplies to innocent people and civilians”.

The war in Gaza began on October 7 with an unprecedented attack by Hamas militants against Israel. It resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

In response, Israel vowed to eradicate Hamas. It launched air strikes and a ground offensive that have killed at least 27,947 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Iran has hailed Hamas’s October 7 attack as a “success” but has denied any direct involvement.

The Islamic republic does not recognise Israel, its sworn enemy, and prohibits all contact between Iranian and Israeli athletes.

The Iranian authorities last August gave a lifetime ban to Mostafa Rajaei, a weightlifter, after he shook hands with an Israeli competitor at an event in Poland, state media reported at the time.

The Iranian weightlifting federation also dismissed the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia.

In 2021, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged athletes “not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal”.

A group of Middle Eastern football associations, including Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, have also “asked world football chiefs to ban Israel over the war on Hamas in Gaza,” Sky News reported on Thursday.

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