Press TV – Former Iranian footballer Ali Daei has declined an invitation by the world’s soccer governing body to visit the Russian city of Kazan, where the Iran men’s national football team will take on Spain in a 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup Group B fixture.
The 49-year-old, who currently manages Iran’s Persian Gulf Pro League club Saipa Tehran, offered his profound apologies for the rejection, citing his efforts to reconstruct homes devastated in the quake that struck western Iran last November.
The quake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale rattled the border region between Iran and Iraq on November 152 2017, causing extensive damage and loss of life.
According to official figures, at least 432 people lost their lives and over 7,817 others sustained injuries in the earthquake. More than 12,000 homes were also been completely destroyed in the incident.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, the Iran football team, nicknamed Team Melli, joined the Portugal national football team, nicknamed A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay form Group A in the upcoming quadrennial international sports event.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 and will run through July 15. Russia opened the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts won the match 5-0.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.
Iran started its World Cup campaign against Morocco at Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on June 15.
The Iranians were gifted a gifted a 1-0 win over Atlas Lions when Moroccan striker Aziz Bouhaddouz thumped a powerful header into his own net five minutes into injury time.
Iran will face Spain at Kazan Arena on Wednesday.