Former Iran soccer team coach denounced for rejecting anti-Israel policies

"We can't accept some things about the United Nations and refuse to accept others," the former coach noted.

iran soccer fans 298 (photo credit: AP)
iran soccer fans 298
(photo credit: AP)
Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan, a former coach of Iran's national soccer team from 2009 to 2011, was heavily criticized for rejecting Iran's policy of not recognizing and calling for the destruction of Israel, according to Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news service.
The former coach expressed his views against long-time Iranian policy of aggression against Israel during a recent online program, when he said that Iran needs to recognize all UN members if it is to accept the authority of international organizations, which includes not calling for the destruction of a member state.
"We can't accept some things about the United Nations and refuse to accept others," the former coach noted.
Iranian hardliners were quick to respond to Mayeli-Kohan's comments by asserting the latter is stupid, a mercenary and a Zionist. Last Thursday, the Athletes' Basij Militia, which is associated with the Iranian government, said the former coach was seeking to attract attention to himself.
"Shame on people who have such beliefs and close their eyes to the tears of the parents of martyred children in Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria," the statement said, while also calling on Mayeli-Kohan to apologize.
Mayeli-Kohan has come under fire previously for being open to Israel-Iran sports competitions, when in 2017, the former coach defended Masoud Shojaei, who was kicked off Iran's national team after playing for his club team Panionios F.C. against Maccabi Tel Aviv F.C. in the European League in Athens.
Shojaei refused to apologize for playing against an Israeli team, and noted that as a member of Panionios F.C., he could not refuse to play.
The backlash against Mayeli-Kohan came following a recent attempt to formalize a law banning Iranian athletes from competing against Israeli athletes, which has thus far been an unwritten rule. The law, which was rejected by the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran’s parliament, said that "any competition or sporting event, whether formal or preparatory."
The rejection of any contact with Israeli athletes have also resulted in Iran's Judo team being suspended by the International Judo Federation.