World Cup and People’s Joy: A Look at Iran Regime’s Hostility Towards Athletes
By Abdolrahman Mahabadi, political writer and analyst
With the 2018 FIFA World Cup officially kicked off in Russia, millions of people across the world are watching the games in different ways, with each match making some shed tears out of sorrow and others smile out of joy. That’s how such tournaments are reflected in people’s feelings.
Like other participating nations, it’s quite natural for Iranian people to be happy about Iran’s victory over Morocco. But the people are also extremely upset about the mullahs taking advantage of such victories, as they know more than anyone else that the regime ruling their country is the number one enemy of Iran’s sport and sports fans. The Iranian people know quite well that, just like many other issues, Iran’s sport has been suffering a bleak situation ever since the mullahs came to power.
According to official remarks, the regime obtains its legitimacy not from people, but from God, a fake God that’s too different from the God Iranian people and the world worship. That’s why the regime has no place in people’s delight, with the happy reactions by the likes of regime’s president ‘Hassan Rouhani’ following a victory being nothing more than a deception.
A look at vilayat-e-faqih regime’s shameful sports record reveals the regime’s long history of hostility towards sports: instead of adequately funding the country’s sport, women’s in particular, the regime allocates the country’s whole budget to exporting fundamentalism and terrorism.
Many of the country’s athletes and sports champions, including Habib Khabiri, have been executed by the mullahs’ regime, while many others were forced to leave the country and still many more had to say goodbye to the field, and die in obscurity at home or abroad.
Aziz Asli, Iran’s goalkeeper during the ‘60s and ‘70s, Aziz Kiani (Iran’s heavyweight wrestler and Gholamreza Takhti’s teammate) were among the champions who chose to die in obscurity abroad but not to give in to the regime, as their heart kept beating for Iran and the Iranian people while always holding the mullahs’ regime responsible for millions of Iranians’ forced immigration.
Habib Khabiri was Iran national football team’s captain in 1979. He played center back. “Habib was a genius in Iran’s football at the time,” says Habib Naebagha, formerly Khabiri’s teammate and colleague and now a member of the NCRI, adding “he was the best Asian player of his time. He was a two-feeted player who, despite being relatively short, could win every one-on-one battle thanks to his athletic ‘little Hercules’ body.”
Habib Khabiri was arrested in 1983 by the mullahs’ oppressive regime. Putting Khabiri under extensive tortures and pressures to break him down in front of Khomeini’s TV cameras, the regime eventually executed him by firing squad on June 21, 1984, for his supporting the PMOI.
And Habib was not the only one. There were many other athletes that were executed by the mullahs’ regime, including Hooshang Montazer-al-Zohoor (former national team’s Greco-Roman wrestler), Ala Kooshali (former Darayee, Perspolis, and Iran national team’s football player), Mahshid Razaghi (former Tehran’s Homa football player), Majid Hajbeigi (former Tehran’s Karate champion), Manouchehr Zangouee (former Khouzestan basketball player), Majid Nazari (former Tehran’s judo champion), Seyed Mohammad Ataroudi (former Taekwondo champion and coach) and Forouzan Abdi (former national volleyball player).
While sports fields and stadiums in every country are places for promoting human values, altruism and building a healthy society, in Iran under the mullahs’ regime, however, such places are either destroyed, held in poor conditions, or turned into places for hanging Iranian people’s children.
In addition to assigning the stadiums and sports places to the Revolutionary Guards and state-linked entities, the regime targets any athlete who dares to speak up in support of the people and their uprising. On July 15, 2017, young athlete Aliasghar Nahvipoor, who couldn’t remain silent and indifferent, and started rebuking a mullah when he saw him insulting a young woman in Shahr-e-Ray subway station, was heroically martyred under regime agents’ barrage of bullets.
Regime’s anti-people Revolutionary Guards and Basij are now not only widely present in all economic, political, military and administrative affairs of Iran’s society, but they also have the final say in the country’s sports clubs, particularly premier football clubs’ boards of directors.
While more than 50 percent of Iran’s population is below 35, the country’s sport is suffering such a scourge, in such a way that the country’s per capita sports spaces is only 60 square centimeter.
Iranian sportswomen, on the other hand, have been experiencing even much worse compared to their male counterparts, as by the order of Khamenei and other mullahs, women are banned from practicing their favorite sports, watching sport matches in stadiums, being aired on TV, having access to proper sports places and having many other sports related rights. Iranian regime’s banning women from attending the stadiums was one of the issues that late Asma Jahangir, former UN Special Rapporteur on Iran’s human rights, had pointed to in her reports.
There are more than a few Iranian veteran athletes and members of the PMOI that, in addition to being involved with their daily activities against the mullahs’ regime, are both planning to attend the NCRI’s Grand Gathering on June 30 in Paris, and also invite other Iranians, Iranian athletes in particular, to join and support the Resistance of Iran. These include: Moslem Eskandar Filabi, Asghar Adibi, Hassan Naebagha, Bahram Maveddat, Abbas Novin-Rouzegar, Mohammad Ghorbani, and Mohammad Tehrani, to name a few.
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