A few weeks ago , Team Melli Midfield player , Masoud Shojaei stated that there is corruption in Iran’s sport. He made these allegation in a n interview.
Although there is nothing new in Shojaei’s statement and in Iran’s football in particular, corruption is the worst kept secret, the Iranian football federation was not amused by the Panionios FC player’s allegations and the Disciplinary committee summoned him to the federation to explain himself.
Shojaei’s mentioned the exploitation of young players , sexual harassment of kids , financial corruption and discrimination against immigrants in football as quite common. He criticized the fact that the officials have not acted despite many prompts and indicators and no one was held accountable for such violations in several clubs across the country For that, Shojaei is facing trouble which might very well end his career in Team Melli. Freedom of expression is not exactly a revered right in Iran and not taken kindly by the authorities especially if it is of a critical nature. Usually , only expression of content with the Islamic values and those statements supporting the ruling clan and the clergy are very much appreciated by the authorities. Messages containing religious propaganda by athletes are highly publicized and commonly promoted, anything to the contrary puts the speaker in hot water.
Ali Daei, perhaps the only outspoken person in the whole of Iran’s football, came out in defense of the player. He criticized the authorities and FFIRI for summoning the player to the DC and said that such an act is the direct invasion of a person’s right of expression and that the FFIRI has no authority whatsoever to prosecute a player for expressing his rights and talking about such events that should trigger some kind of investigation by the federation rather than shooting the messenger.
Daei was also strongly supportive of Seyed Mehdi Rahmati, the former Team Melli goalkeeper who was also summoned to the Disciplinary Committee because he was photographed with a girl without Hijab, the picture was published in a social media site!! Daei was so incensed with that accusation and was so defiant to the extent that he said that he will never refuse to take a picture with a female fan who does not wear a hijab , or the Islamic headscarves. “It is not anyone business what they wear on their head, it is a choice that people make and should not be forced to change. “I will never refuse taking a picture with my fans based on such principles. Period” Daei said in a post match press conference.