Opinion: The Soccer World Turned Its Back on Amir Nasr-Azadani

The rumor that the Iranian soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani was sentenced to death in the framework of the protests that Iran is experiencing today does not seem to resonate in the world of soccer

Amir Nasr-Azadani

Photo: Latin American Post

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: El mundo del fútbol le dio la espalda a Amir Nasr-Azadani

Any soccer fan knows that FIFA has a golden rule: you cannot participate in politics. According to the body that regulates professional soccer around the planet, neither governments should have any interference in FIFA or the Federations, nor will FIFA have to get involved in political issues.

Although FIFA normally tries to uphold this rule at all times, we have seen various criticisms. Such happened with the captain's armbands of UEFA teams in the World Cup in Qatar. FIFA considered wearing the LGBT+ pride flag armbands a political act against the host country and threatened sanctions.

So now that Iranian player Amir Nasr-Azadani is rumored to be on death row for his involvement in the Iran protests, the football world is silent. The judicial situation of the player is not easy. He is accused of being a member of an armed group responsible for assassinating 3 security agents , according to what the Iranian embassy in Colombia explained. And as is known, the trial has not been carried out, so the future of Nasr-Azadani is not known as such, but in the middle of a World Cup, a rebellious voice from a colleague would not have been less. In the same way as this athlete faces it, several protesters in Iran can go to the gallows, as in the cases of Majidreza Rahnavard, 23 years old; and Mohsen Shekari.

According to Amnesty International, another 9 people were sentenced to death in the Islamic republic and 28 more could face the same fate. This, in the framework of protests that left 488 dead and more than 18,000 detained, according to Human Rights Activists.

However, there are exceptions. For example, for the recent World Cup in Qatar, Russia was automatically eliminated due to the conflict with Ukraine. Here, the European confederation (UEFA) made the decision to automatically eliminate Russia, benefiting Poland. If the excuse were human rights, the case of Nasr-Azadani or the bracelet of the LGBT+ community are also cases of human rights.

So while soccer is silent, other industries have been much more empathetic. So much so that the only internationally relevant figure who has spoken out in favor of Amir Nasr-Azadani was the Colombian singer Shakira. Neither Leonel Messi, nor Cristiano Ronaldo, nor any other footballer with a global impact has said anything.

This meanness that we see in soccer contrasts with other sports. We are not talking about criticizing the Government of Iran, which would already be asking too much for FIFA to criticize an authoritarian government that violently represses its citizens. But that they are not able to send a message, either in solidarity or asking Iran for clarifications for the well-being or due trial of Nasr-Azadani, is just a show of disinterest with the protagonists of the game. It is true that the Iranian will not be a national or international figure, but as a union, there should be greater solidarity from players or ex-players with platforms that publicize the case more.

Read also: Qatar 2022: The World Cup of T-shirts, the Big Brands Also Played their Tournament

A clear example was how the WTA repeatedly requested responses from the Chinese government to the alleged disappearance of tennis player Shuai Peng. It was rumored that Peng had not appeared in public again after an insult to a leading Chinese politician. The president of the WTA threatened not to play any official event of the championship in the Asian country again until they had clarity on the matter, which finally happened and Penga went out in public to calm the world of tennis. This is what has been lacking in football.

Now, let's hope that the “reason” for the lack of empathy was that everyone was watching how Messi raised the cup. Now that the tournament is over, it would be vital to carry out a more in-depth exercise of how soccer behaves and is managed as a union.

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