(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Iran's national football team Saturday that he will try to travel to Germany to watch them play in the World Cup if they make it to the second round.
"If you make it to the second round, then I would try to join you," Ahmadinejad told team members at a farewell ceremony for the players who presented him with a national team shirt bearing the number 24 and his name.
On Thursday, a group of European Parliament members was seeking an indefinite EU travel ban on Ahmadinejad after he called for Israel to be destroyed and questioned the Holocaust.
A group of 75 lawmakers from all major political groups in the EU assembly signed a petition, which was submitted to EU president Austria and FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, asking them to prevent Ahmadinejad from traveling to Germany to watch his team play in the June 9-July 9 World Cup and banning him from traveling to any of the other 24 EU member states.
Only EU member states can declare a travel ban, which is unlikely because world powers, including Britain, France and Germany, are currently debating how to resolve the Iran nuclear crisis.
"We do not wish the Iranian president to come to Europe for very clear reasons - his attacks on Israel, his denials concerning the Holocaust," said Jana Hybaskova, member of the European People's Party, the biggest group in the European Parliament. "What we want is not a short term solution, we want the European Council to deal with the issue like it dealt with Lukashenko."