Iran protests FIFA fine levied over ‘religious manifestation’ at match

IRNA- A top Iranian sports official says the Islamic Republic has registered a formal protest with FIFA over the body’s recent decision to impose a fine of thousands of dollars on the Iranian football federation for “several religious manifestations” during a game last month.

Ali Kaffashian, the vice-president of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI), told reporters on Saturday that FFIRI had formally protested to FIFA over its penalty of 46,200 dollars for the “religious manifestations” during a 2018 World Cup qualifier game between Iran and South Korea at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on October 11.

“We have clarified in our protest that the Iranian spectators’ actions during the match were all out of their religious and cultural beliefs, and not against FIFA Statutes. We have not paid the fine yet, waiting to see where our protest leads to,” Kaffashian said.

On November 3, FIFA claimed in a statement that Iran’s soccer federation had asked fans to sing religious chants and wear black for the match between Team Melli and the Taeguk Warriors, which was held in a mournful atmosphere on Tasu’a, the eve of the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam.

The statement said a “religious ceremony was organized before the game and at halftime.”

FIFA rules ban political, religious or commercial messages at international matches.

Iran’s professional forward Sardar Azmoun, who plays as a striker for FC Rostov in the Russian Premier League, scored the winner in the 25th minute of the match and chalked up the 1-0 victory over South Korea.

The photo shows a view of the third round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament Group A match between Iran (players in white) and South Korea at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, Iran, on October 11, 2016.

Commenting on the 2018 World Cup round three qualifying match between Iran and Uzbekistan’s White Wolves on June 13, 2017, Kaffashian said that efforts are underway to advance the contest.

The upcoming match falls on the eve of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Destiny), which is believed to be the night when the first verses of the holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) some 14 centuries ago.

The event has double significance for Shia Muslims as the night of the 21st day of Ramadan also marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of the first Shia Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH).