A group of current and former Iranian sportspeople say they have no choice but to turn on their own country, citing what they called state-sponsored violence and discrimination against ordinary Iranians, especially women.
The group, containing former champions in sports such as karate, judo and wrestling, including those living in exile and based in their homeland, are taking a stand.
Last week, in conjunction with a Spanish law firm, they sent a letter to world soccer’s governing body FIFA demanding their own country be withdrawn from next month’s World Cup.
“Iran is different to any other country,” former wrestling world junior champion and national team coach Sardar Pashaei told Reuters.
“A football federation should be independent, but in Iran it’s a joke. Everything is controlled by the Revolutionary Guards – the Revolutionary Guards are recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S.