Iran soccer team cancels game over Israeli coach

Sepahan Isfahan announces it will not participate in training match with Serbian team due to coach's Israeli nationality.

February 20, 2012 13:47
1 minute read.
Avram Grant

Avram Grant 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Iranian soccer group Sepahan Isfahan cancelled an upcoming training match after learning that its rival team's coach is Israeli, the Serbian Cafe website reported on Monday.

The group was scheduled to play against Serbian team Partizan Belgrad on Friday.

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"I'm disappointed that the game was cancelled," Partizan Belgrad coach Avram Grant said. "They told me it was cancelled because I'm Israeli. I don't mix sports with politics and I'm not going to start now."

The Serbian team previously cancelled its participation in a training camp in Dubai because of difficulties in obtaining a visa for Grant and moved the games to Israel instead.

Grant managed the Israeli national soccer team for four years before moving to England and becoming the manager of the Chelsea Football Club. Grant steered Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final and was in contention for the Premier League title to the last day of the season after taking over from Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge in 2007.

Grant's contract was terminated at the end of the season after he conceded both titles to Manchester United and after an eight-month stint at Portsmouth, he failed to save West Ham United from relegation last season.

Grant replaced Aleksandar Stanojevic as Partizan Belgrad's coach in January.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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