Javad Nekounam was interviewed by telephone on Navad Program Monday night. The poor communication line, spoiled what was supposed to be constructive exchange between himself , the incumbent head of FFIRI, Ali Kaffashian and the show anchor Adel Ferdowsipour.
Kaffashian was the studio guest of Navad.
Javad Nekounam stopped short of accusing Ali Kaffashian of negligence when he talked extensively about the lack of proper support for Team Melli during its quest to qualify for the world cup. “I am not singling out Mr. Kaffashian who has tried to help the team, but at best his efforts were way short of what has to be done for the most important team in Iran that is trying to qualify for the World’s biggest sporting event. Support for Team Melli is a collective effort which has not met our aspirations.”
“All what the Team Melli players have said about that were true (…) no one has fabricated any lies .” Nekounam alleged.
“Lack of funds meant that we had to do with sub-standard kits that were actually made in Iran. I agree with Ashkan Dejagah on that. Iran’s football league standard is of a low quality of which 20% of that weakness is due the poor quality of the balls manufactured in Iran. The kit we were using was not of a good quality and everyone was dissatisfied with it.”
Team Melli kit manufacturers UHLsports has strongly challenged what it calls allegation of substandard quality , although the German sports good company admitted that some fake UHLSports kits was found in Team Melli’s kit collections when an audit was conducted. Those fake ones were not sent or approved by UHLSports nor did it have any control over it.
Nekounam criticized the FFIRI again by accusing the federation of inattentiveness and disregard for Team Melli players. “After the win against Chile, we expected some rewards, but we did not even get a phone call to congratulate us let alone a bonus.!” The Osasuna Captain said.
Nekounam had no complimentary words for the Iran’s football. He accused un-named parties of building hurdles against Queiroz and working to ousted him. He also emphasized that he and the rest of the Team Melli players are quite satisfied with Queiroz and braved Kaffashian to keep him by using his own judgment rather than succumbing to external pressure.
Nekounam was evidently referring to the pressure by the Ministry of Youth and Sports but did not have the nerve to name them. Kaffashian admitted that he did not contact the Team Melli players but offered no apology or proper justification.
Nekounam admitted that his decision to quit Team Melli was abrupt and without much thought, however, he insisted that he has played his last game with the team.
Nekounam has some valid arguments, although none of it is new. However, like the plethora of critics, the record holder of matches in Team Melli is not offering practical solutions nor indicating that he is willing to work on some good deeds to help take Iran’s football out of this hardship, at least within his capabilities.
Nekounam also ignored a very important issue and that is the role of the Iranian players themselves in this chaotic status. Players who are paid professional wages but hey are amateurs in every sense of the word, and that includes Team Melli players.
While the country’s economy and many sectors of society was suffering under sanctions, many footballers were enjoying a luxury life with wages several folds higher than other professional such as surgeons , doctors , university lectures etc.
Indiscipline, apathy, lack of commitment, disrespect for peers and egotism are quite rife amongst the footballers. Areas that have not been seriously addressed by any football management schemes, although it is common knowledge.