Soccer, Politics and Funerals – A Bad Mix

by M-Rebeiro

The national football team of Iran, known as the Team Melli, ranks 4th in Asia and 47th in the world according to the current FIFA World Rankings.

The funeral for an acclaimed Iranian soccer player turned into a mass protest of President Ahmadinejad in late May of 2011.

A soccer fan writing under the alias of “Miladi” reported that tens of thousands of fans attended the ceremony of Nasser Hejazi, an internationally renowned defender and detractor of the President. Even women, typically banned from stadiums by gender, were allowed to attend due to his great public standing. Mr. Hejazi’s public criticism of Ahmadinejad had led him to be declared as a speaker for the people, and the crowds only swelled as the government rushed to bury the body and end the ceremony before it got out of hand.

Mr. Hejazi died of lung cancer at the age of 62. He played more than 62 times for both the Iranian national team and also Esteghlal FC in the Asian Football Confederation. Despite being outspoken in political beliefs, he was barred from running for office by authorities.

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Iranian Soccer Legend

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