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Iran Looks to Complain Greek Football Federation to FIFA

By Kazem Sarabi June 3, 2018

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An episode from a match between the men's national football teams of Iran and Qatar, September 1, 2018 / Football Federation of Iran Islamic Republic

The Football Federation of Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) announced on Thursday it will report its Greek counterpart to the football (soccer) world’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, over Greece’s cancellation of a match between the national football teams of the two countries.

“The Iranian Federation will advance with a report to FIFA and take all legal possibilities, seeking compensation for all the damages caused, in sport and financial areas,” FFIRI said in an official written statement on May 31, according to Reuters.

The Hellenic Football Federation (HFF), the national football organization of Greece, has unilaterally annulled the game with the World Cup-bound Iranian national team, which was scheduled for June 2. Iranian football officials say that the decision has spoiled the atmosphere leading up to the World Cup, which will begin in Russia on June 14.

The game between the Iranian and Greek teams has been scheduled since February, and Istanbul was to be the host city. However that allegedly led to a dispute between the sides when the HFF officials said their team was not planning to go to Turkey and offered instead to host the match at the Nea Smyrni Stadium in Athens.

But playing in Athens is not an option, according to FFIRI officials, who strongly rejected the offer on religious grounds. FFIRI officials said they could not allow the national team to play in a match when the Greek team’s main sponsors are tied to what it claims are gambling and alcohol industries.

The disagreement has resulted in FFIRI suspending its relationship with HFF.

“Until further proceeding of this report by FIFA, the Iranian Federation announces the suspension of relations with the Greek Federation,” read a statement released by FFIRI on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The last World Cup rehearsal match for the Iranian team, known as Team Melli, or “national” team, will kick off on June 8, against Lithuania, at the Otkritie Arena (Open Arena) in Moscow. The team will begin its World Cup matches on opening day of the quadrennial soccer tournament.

Iran finished first place in the Group D qualifying matches in the Asia Football Confederation in June 2017 with 22 points. Team Melli will play in the fourth 2018 World Cup group stage qualification, and square off against two of Europe’s strongest teams, namely Portugal and Spain, and play against the Moroccan team within Group B matches. Iran last qualified for the World Cup in 2006.