Tag: Ali Kaffashian

12 years later it is confirmed that Ahmadinejad fired Ali Daei!

 in April 2009, after  Team Melli’s defeat against Saudi Arabia in the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010  qualifiers, it was suddenly announced that Ali Daei, the head coach of the Team, had been fired. The dismissal came while the Iranian team still had a good chance to advance to the World Cup, but with the dismissal of Daei and the presence of Afshin Ghotbi, Team Melli finally failed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa and experienced a major setback.

Daei had repeatedly stated after the incident that his dismissal had nothing to do with the Football Federation and that institutions higher than the federation had decided to fire him. Although this claim was initially denied by the then president of the Football Federation, Ali Kafashian, over time, various interviews with federation officials and members of the national team at the time confirmes Daei’s claims.

However, today, Saturday, Mohammad Akhundi, who was the spokesman for the Physical Education Organization at the time, confirmed that the dismissal of Ali Daei, was a decision taken by the office of the Presidency and in particular the president himself (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad).

In this regard, Akhundi said “this decision was taken and announced in the presidential palace. They called me to announce the news, but I said that it was the responsibility of other people and the football federation to do so and not the PEO.” He added: “We refused to announce the dismissal of Ali Daei in the Physical Education Organization.”

The former spokesman for the Physical Education Organization, who was a guest in a radio program, was asked “Is it true that Ahmadinejad took that decision on his own?” He said: “What I know unofficially is that the President himself made this decision, but officially it came from the presidential Palace!. The justification for Daei’s dismissal was the pressure of public opinion, those around the group concluded that Ali was not to continue.

Akhundi was asked if Ali Daei’s dismissal was due to the fact that he did not allow Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to enter the locker room between the two halves of the Iran-Saudi game: “I have no information about this.” A former spokesman for the Physical Education Organization said: “That change (dismissal of Ali Daei) was wrong. If Daei continued, we would have probably qualified to the World Cup.”

FFIRI board and Minster of Sports summoned to the Majlis.

Finally, Mehdi Taj and his entourage board members of the Football Federation are to be challenged about the circumstances of the suspicious and highly controversial deal by the parliament.

Mehdi Taj, along with several members of FFIRI board of directors and several current and former directors, attended a questioning session in the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

According to ISNA, the purpose of FFIRI board of directors’ appearance in Majlis is to determine if there was wrongdoing, negligence or corruption behind the signing of the deal with Wilmots, especially since the federation has been claiming for many years under both Ali Kaffashian and Mehdi Taj that it is critically short of funds even to pay its basic obligation, like the employee’s salaries, National teams training camps and inability to arrange meaningful friendly games for Team Melli to prepare for the World Cup citing fund shortage. Yet, the same federation that has been constantly seeking handouts from the government in effect using blackmail tactics, signs a multi-million dollar contract with a coach who has lasted only six months with Ivory Coast before he was sacked!

The FFIRI had steadfastly refused to disclose the terms of the deal and the justifications until public pressure and the threat of law suite finally exposed this horrendous commitment by the bankrupt federation.


Mehdi Taj and Ebrahim Shakoori, along with the current board of directors are under investigation for signing the worst sporting contract in the history of Iran at all levels. A contract with Marc Wilmots which resulted in Iran’s Team Melli not only risking eliminations from the qualifiers with two consecutive defeats under the Belgian but also resulted in the coach of Team Melli leaving the country accusing his employer of several breaches of the contract, which was supported by FIFA’s committee with Iranian side ordered to pay some € 6.2 million in fines to the person who has put Team Melli on the brink of elimination from the World Cup !.

The Minister of Sports and Youth Masoud Soltanifar and his deputies are also summoned for the hearing. It is strongly believed that the influence of the Minister was telling in the conclusion of the contract. With FFIRI board constantly seeking handouts, it is believed that none dared to challenge the Ministry’s choice while Soltanmifar denies any wrongdoing and only introducing the coach by recommendation of Iran-Belgium Chambers of commerce.

The executives are expected to answer questions from members of the Parliament about the background and the termination of the contract with Wilmots. FFIRI has borrowed over € 2.2 million from the social security organization to pay Wilmot’s salary.

Many observers are skeptical about any progress of the proceeding as it is feared that the issue will be kept under wrap and no one will be prosecuted especially since the Ministry of Sports and Youth is involved in the case as defendants.

“We conned FIFA” Former FFIRI President admits.

Ali Kaffashian, the former president of the Football Federation says he has lied to FIFA in defining the nature of this federation in the 2007 constitution.

It is one of the most direct and vivid confessions that the Iranian Government controls the Football Federation, in spite of the common knowledge that such governance means the suspension of the federation and sanctions against FFIRI.

According to Kaffashian, the nature of the Football Federation and the government’s oversight of this organization has always been a topic of debate in the country’s football circles, because if the federation is considered an independent non-governmental organization (NGO), the Ministry of Sports and government departments cannot impose or force regulations such as prohibiting government retirees from occupying a post in NGOs.

“A retired person should be able to hold any post in independent organizations and that includes private companies, but if an organization is defined as a “Public non-governmental entity”, the government enforces its authority upon it.

Blatter & Kaffashian

In response to a question of whether the federation is an “Independent NGO” or a “Non-Governmental Public Body”  Ali Kaffashian said, “When I joined football federation, I was retired from government services.  At the time it was explained to me that the federation is an independent organization or NGO and as a non-governmental body, I have no problem with the law that prohibits government retirees from working while receiving a pension.”

“After the change of Cabinet, the new minister of sport did not want me in FFIRI and said I was retired and should not be occupying this post. I reminded him that the federation is a non-governmental organization and that my retirement is irrelevant, but the honorable minister said that the federation is a “non-governmental public institution” and that government employment rules and regulations apply to you, so your retirement is a problem.”

Kaffashian emphasized that the nature of the federation should be written correctly in the amendment of the federation’s charter, adding: “I think we should include everything that we are in the new charter. Officials should mention that the federation is an ‘independent non-governmental organization’ If FIFA accepts that, then there is no problem, but if it does not, do not falsely tell FIFA that it is an independent, non-governmental organization while in fact, it is a government entity.”

“We have conned FIFA in the past,” Kafashian said, referring to the federation’s 2007 constitutional amendment. When the constitution was adopted by a six-member group of government and FIFA representatives, Mr. Kiomars Hashemi, a former member of the federation’s presidium, wrote in a preface of the constitution that it was an independent, non-governmental organization. This is not true and never was. We tricked FIFA to remove the sanction imposed on us after the 2006 World Cup and lied.”

He continued “We should not have lied. Now we must clearly say that we are a non-governmental public organization. If they do not accept, we should take the law to the parliament to change it so that future managers do not face any problems. Whenever we were moved, they hit us on the head with a stick that we are a public and non-governmental organization and should abide by the ministry”.

Haidar Baharvand elected as Interim President of FFIRI

Haidar Baharvand has been appointed as Acting President of the Iranian Football Federation and Chairman of the League committee at the same time, according to Hedayat Mombini a member of FFIRI’s Executive Committee following the emergency meeting of the federation’s Board of Directors.

“After the resignation of Mr. Mehdi Taj as a result of ill-health, we had a meeting to discuss this subject and according to the Statute of the Football Federation, one of the Vice-Presidents or a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation had to be selected as a replacement. Since Ali Kaffashian, who previously held this post has resigned, Mr. Baharvand was elected in an acting capacity. This was the whole subject of the meeting and following this decision another meeting was held with the Minister of Youth and Sports who gave his approval to this appointment” Hedayat Mombini said to ISNA reporter.

It seems that FFIRI Executive Committee and Board Member have no concerns or apprehensions about publically stating that the appointment of the head of the football federation FFIRI or approval thereof, is sanctioned by the government of Iran in direct violation of FIFA charter.

 Mombini added: “We are in a critical period as Omid Team will soon compete in AFC U23 Championship hoping to qualify for the Olympic games and there are also concerns on the appointment of a Team Melli. God willing, with this process completed and the situation returning to normal, the leadership of the Football Federation will continue in the same way. “

Asked how is the arrangement for the league, Mombini said: “Anyway, this issue has come up and now Mr. Baharvand will be the head of both, the Football Federation and the League Organization. We have no changes in the organization of the league at this time. We will decide next week on the Federation and Electoral Assembly dates. As you know, the elections were supposed to take place on May 6, but we will make the final decision sooner than that”

I have not seen or heard of a written letter of resignation” Mombini responded to a question of whether Taj’s letter of resignation has reached the board of directors. “I have no knowledge about that but Mehdi Taj has verbally resigned.” !!!

Asked about the urgency in selecting a Head Coach for Team Melli, Mombini said “there is a lot of work that needs to be done for the appointment of the coach; it would be a little late if we wait for May when the elections of a new President is scheduled. The coach and his assistants need to be selected soon. We are considering foreign and domestic options but are more inclined to choose foreign ones.”

Mehdi Taj , President of FFIRI resigns.

The President of the Iranian Football Federation has submitted his resignation from the post due to ill health. Mehdi Taj, who took the helm of the FFIRI has recently suffered to stokes and was hospitalized until lately back.

Taj joined the federation in 2008 where he was appointed as First Vice President until 2012, then President of the Iran Football League Organization (2013–2016) before taking over from Ali Kaffashian in May 2016.

Taj started his sports administration functions with Sepahan Esfahan as Secretary of the Board on two terms (1992–1994, 2002–2006) and president of the club (1994–1999).[2] He was also editor-in-chief of Jahan Varzesh from 1991 until 2001. On 7 May 2016, he was elected as president of Iranian Football Federation with 51 votes, succeeding Ali Kaffashian

Minister of Sport’s reaction to Taj’s resignation

Massoud Soltanifar, was disheartened to hear the news of the resignation of Mehdi Taj from the Football Federation. He said: “The recent heart attacks created grave concern for Mr. Taj and the sports community, and it is sad for me to hear about his resignation.  Soltanifar, today, expressing regret over the resignation of Mehdi Taj, said: “He was a capable, hard-working, accurate manager and we brought with him the best result in the history of soccer in the World Cup. It was Mr. Taj’s success. The Minister of Sports and Youth added: “His health is more important to us and to his esteemed family and to the football community, and we certainly do not have a capable manager now in charge of the Football Bureau, but as a trusted adviser alongside sports management.”

According to FFIRI regulation, one of the deputies will take over the reign until the holding of an election convention in May 2020. Second Vice President Baharvand and  Women’s committee Vice President Sufi Zadeh are the candidates for the post. Most probably the former will take over the post.

The Football Federation is currently undergoing a crises situation with a numerous problems, including a vacant Team Melli head coach post,  Poor results of Team Melli in World Cup qualifiers, refusal of the IRIB to recognize TV Broadcast rights, FIFA scrutiny on allowing women into football stadiums for league matches and the severe financial difficulties facing the federation.

Mehdi Taj’s masterstroke!

Mehdi Taj and the FFIRI have to be credited for the appointment of Marc Wilmots as head coach of Team Melli replacing Queiroz.

The Iranian federation FFIRI faced many obstacles in their quest to replace Queiroz beginning from the Finances, or lack of it , to political objections, to social issues and the strong local lobbies.

The lack of funds is by now a common knowledge. Despite the lack of transparency by FFIRI including no audited balance sheet that is publically available to answer discrepancies such as the alleged disappearance of large amount of payments awarded to FFIRI during the reign Ali Kaffashian, the federation has been suffering from lack of resources for years.  Transfer of salary through normal banking channels to a foreign coach is also a great challenge thanks to one Donald Trump and his American sanctions.

It is that sanction that prompted many politicians and hardliners to question the appointment of a foreign coach and thus the wasting of rare hard currency on football while large sectors of industry and other services were in dire need of that cash and hard currency. It was certainly a legitimate question particularly that this football has yielded nothing for the country since the revolution particularly the trophy that really matters for the Iranians, the AFC Asian Cup.

Compared to other sports, football has one of the lowest returns of investment  and yields in the country yet the people associated with it are the highest paid of them all, some of whom make astronomical figures comparatively.

Socially speaking, the question foreign coach appointment has always been divisive debate in Iran. A large number of fans question such appointments based on issues such as communication, language, culture, logistics and most importantly, cost.

The other factor in this endless debate is the strong lobbying by influential people in Iran’s football. Ex-players, coaches, administrators and managers who strongly support the appointment of one of their own.

That reservation on foreign coach is responded to by the other camp who believe that Iranian coaches are not suitable or favorable at this time. Ali Daei, a legendary figure in his own right, lost his job in an un-ceremonial fashion after losing to Saudi Arabia at Azadi in a World Cup qualifier match.

Before him, Amir Ghalenoei, who is by far the most successful Iranian league club coach, tried but failed to achieve success in the AFC Asian Cup 2007.

Mansour Ebrahimzadeh was an interim coach but he was a disaster losing all the 3 matches Team Melli played under him. Finally Afshin Ghotbi, who is technically an American citizen, who failed to deliver in AFC Asian Cup 2011

In reality, in this period, there is no good Iranian candidate for Team Melli. From experience to knowledge to discipline to modern football tactics awareness and many more aspects, it is clear that Iranian coaches have a lot to learn.

Taj and his men had to navigate all those hurdles and skillfully managed to come up with the correct decision.

So, without bias, the appointment of Marc Wilmots is a masterstroke carried out under immense pressure. Mehdi Taj deserves much credit for such a move, notwithstanding the shortfalls in his administration and  lack of transparency.  Certainly there remains a lot to be corrected at FFIRI, but credit must be given were credit is due

Ali Kaffashian investigated by FFIRI Ethics Committee

The former President of FFIRI and the AFC Vice-President was summoned by the Football Federation Ethics Committee.

According to ISNA, the issue of broadcasting rights was refered to to the Ethics Committee after the discovery of some irregularities. This will be the second time that the proceeding is opened in regards to Team Melli’s matches in the preliminary qualifying round of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 against Guam, Turkmenistan, India and Oman in which, the former President of the Football Federation and current vice president has been accountable.

While the TV broadcast rights company MP & SILVA, as a football federation contractor, claims that they have paid $ 79,000  (totaling $ 316,000) to the football federation FFIRI for each of these games, documents of the federation does not reflect this fact and no record exists of the payment!

Accordingly, Ali Kaffashian, the head of the Football Federation’s at the time was ordered by the Ethics Committee, to submit these records to the committee.

Blatter & Kaffashian

 In his first appearance at the Ethics Committee, Kaffashian promised to submit the documents, but despite the passage of more than five months from that first hearing, he had not presented any documents yet, so the Ethics Committee ordered him to appear again before the committee on Wednesday to present the documents.

Ali Kaffashian (63 years) was the President of FFIRI for two terms from 1st March 2008 to 7th May 2016. He was succeeded by Mehdi Taj the incumbent President.

Yes Minister !!

Masoud Soltanifar was spot on when he issued instructions to Mehdi Taj and ordered FFIRI to investigate the management calamity that has led to a heavy fine and sanctions by FIFA imposed on Persepolis club that might approach the 800,000 Euro including legal cost.

The Minister of youth and sports was even more judicious and decisive when he demanded, in no uncertain terms, that the football administrators get their act together and start learning the skills of the trade by attending courses or workshop in order to improve their knowledge in international law and football management.

On the surface of things, the reaction of the minister is praiseworthy. Mr. Soltanifar, is more than concerned about the repeated failures of Iranian football management and poor decision making leading to wastage of public funds. Virtually all clubs, but most significantly the two top popular ones, Esteghlal and Persepolis, are run by the government in some form or another. As such this control has cost the public coffers tens of millions of dollars in expenditure and wastage. There is another motive for issuing the order by Mr. Soltanifar. He is, no doubt bracing himself for questioning in the Majlis (the Parliament) by members who will question his authority and criticize his role in this humiliation.

Indeed, humiliation is the right phrase used by no other than Carlos Queiroz to describe this whole affair.

However, on close scrutiny of this event and the subsequent reaction by the Minister, it seems that this is a clear case of self-incrimination.

The individuals who are running Persepolis are appointees of the Ministry in the first place. The Youth & Sports Minister approves the Chief Executive, board member and major posts in the club, and hence he is directly accountable for the actions by the club. It is him that has failed to appoint a competent team of administrators and it is appropriate that he is questioned and held accountable for this fiasco.

Those who run football in Iran, particularly Esteghlal and Persepolis clubs, from directors to key administration personnel, are mostly political appointees. Rather than competency or merit based appointments, the candidates for the posts are either ex revolutionary guards’ commanders, military,  police or government employees who have served the regime and in returned are rewarded for their loyalties. This might work if those people are competent and experienced in this field. There is no place for entrepreneurs, businessmen or professionally trained and experienced executives in the boards of Persepolis and Esteghlal.  It is more important to be a pious man who does not miss his prayer rather than being a capable manager with knowledge in marketing, financing, legal affairs and public relations talents. There is a distinct lack of personnel who can run clubs as corporate entities.

It is not surprising that fiascos such as this can be committed by the likes of Mehdi Taj, Ali Kaffashian and Ali Akbar Taheri. A person such as Mohammad Rouyanian, led Persepolis to the verge of bankruptcy while at the helm of the club a few years back. The affairs in the other popular club , Esteghlal, is not much better.  The Minster and the government must shoulder the responsibility especially since the concern is wastage of public funds that can be used in much needed areas of football development (such as having a decent training ground for Team Melli)

The lack of accountability is quite rife in Iran’s football. It is indeed rare for a coach, Chairman or an accountable manager to accept responsibility for a failure and resign his post.  All those aforementioned have one undeniable skill and that is bargaining! The word Chaneh, meaning bargaining or lack of a better term, maneuvering, dodging and evading an issue by the use of justification, excuses and pleas. This is instilled in the Iranian culture and accepted in the bazzar when buying a commodity but it is also widely used in business and administration process. It is a trait that takes those who excel in it to great heights in the hierarchy. With maneuvering and use of words and terms, these people get away with murder. Fortunately, in international law, there is no place for such maneuvering and that is where Iran football gets caught. The suspension of Iran by FIFA post Word Cup 2006 is still fresh in the memory.

It is not that Iran lacks managerial and administration skills to run a successful football club or football federation.

When the country has the likes of Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team of negotiators on the nuclear deal who have done the nation pride by their skills, professionalism, knowledge and proficiency that has gained the respect of the whole world, it is pity that such skills are nowhere to be seen in football administration which is now a global multibillion dollar business and not just purely a sport.

The government has no business running football in Iran, not in any other country for that matter. By owning and running sports clubs, there is a great responsibility that has to be accomplished in a successful manner. The reality is that the government has a vivid lack of vision, tools and competency in doing so. Their priorities are focused on security and fear of expression of discontent leading to mass revolt. It might be a legitimate right for the regime to protect itself, but by controlling football clubs and federation, it is exposing itself too . The government should have much more important functions and priorities other than running Esteghlal and Persepolis. 

Yes Minister. You are correct in your demands for answers. But it is a step too late. In corporate terms, this is a reactive measure rather than proactive. Even if there is partial success in reducing the penalties, it only serves as a cover for the real perennial problem in Iran’s football…incompetent management.

FFIRI taking AFC and Saudis to court.

Mehdi Taj, the President of Iran’s football association FFIRI has announced that a delegation headed by Ali Kaffashian will proceed to Switzerland to present Iran’s case against the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Saudi Arabia.

After the breaking of political relation between the two countries, the Saudi Football authorities refused to allow its teams to travel to Iran citing security fears. The AFC , which is led by a Bahraini Shaikh, and no doubt influenced by dominating Arab lobby in the Asian Ruling body, immediately accepted the Saudi argument and ordered both countries to play their matches against each other on neutral ground. This move, not only put a huge burden on Iranian teams which are already suffering financial hardship but also deprived them from that world-famous passionate support they usually receive in Azadi stadium.

Iran’s FFIRI grudgingly accepted the AFC ruling initially , however, it consulted several law firms and international legal consultancies to determine the legitimacy of the ruling by AFC. Neither United Nation nor FIFA or any other world bodies for that matter, has announced that Iran is a war zone or it is an unsafe venue for football or other  sport activities. The Saudi move was purely politically motivated and AFC had failed to execute its due diligence when it issued the ruling against Iran. The AFC ruling was against AFC’s own principles about politics in football. 

As recently as last month, the AFC has written to its Member Associations reiterating that all stakeholders involved in Asian football must respect the principle of political neutrality.

The letter sent by the AFC stressed that the principle is a cornerstone of both the AFC and of the international sports movement, and is reflected in Article 3.2 of the AFC Statutes, which states: “the AFC is neutral in all matters of politics and religion”.

In the case that FFIRI has lodged in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ,  the Iranians are demanding that AFC reverse its ruling and allow Iranian teams and clubs to exercise its right to play at home grounds in front of its own crowds,  in addition to a demand  for compensation for all the expenses incurred by travelling Iranian teams and officials. The defendant is AFC and its head, Shk. Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, 

The case put forward by FFIRI will be quite interesting for Qatar. There is very little doubt that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain teams will refuse to play in Qatar putting due to the recent break of relationship. As such this will put immense pressure on the AFC to obey the Saudi lobby and traet Qatari teams the same as it treated the Iranians. Qatar, like Iran , is a safe country and will be hosting the FIFA World Cup 2022.  No doubt that the Saudi lobby will claim some terrorism allegation for its case against Qatar.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS; French: Tribunal arbitral du sport, TAS) is an international quasi-judicial body established to settle disputes related to sport through arbitration. Its headquarters are in Lausanne(Switzerland) and its courts are located in New York City, Sydney and Lausanne. Temporary courts are established in current Olympic host cities.

Is it worth it?

Iranian football has never been exposed to such a humiliating treatment like the ones that it is receiving from this Mozambique born Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz.

For the last few years and due to all sort of reasons, he has been treating the football federation with contempt. Manipulating the faults and the sheer incompetency of the system managed by the likes of Ali Kaffashian , Mehdi Taj and MohammadReza Saket (the so-called Esfahani Mafia), Queiroz has opened a front against the establishment and began a proxy war , agitation technique and a campaign in misleading the stakeholders in order to get out of his commitment and contractual obligation.  Such contempt, disrespect to the people, flagrant disregard for the etiquette of the host country would have sent him on the first flight home if that happened in one of the Persians Gulf countries, however it seems that the Persians are way too accommodating for the “Khareji”.

 Omid Namazi 

Queiroz’s  list of his misdemeanors is as long as an airport runway and it is increasing by the day. His latest antics were the indiscriminate sacking of the Iranian personnel working in Team Melli. From Afshin Peyrovani, unashamed defenders of the Portuguese man who was living in denial to the mild mannered, dedicated and the professional Markar Aghajanian. Before them, Omid Namazi faced the same dilemma.

“At what price and humiliation level do you want to make to the World Cup?” These are the words of Ali Karimi who served under Queiroz for a few days as an assistant coach only to abruptly leave his post and was subsequently bombarded with hate messages and profanities from the same people who used to cheer him on the stands during his playing days, according to Karimi’s own words. But to his credit , Karimi  always maintained silence and never discussed the reason for leaving his Team Melli assistant coach job in such an abrupt manner. Karimi, rightly or wrongly feared instability in the Team Melli camp and to preserve national interest, he remained quiet.

“Now,  you can guess what happened in my case. I say no more, but I hope all those who questioned my loyalty to Team Melli realize where I stand and why I left.” Karimi clearly hinting at the treatment of Iranian assistant coaches are receiving from the Portuguese.

There is no doubt that Queiroz was lied to, promises of support never fulfilled, worked in a chaotic rather than a systematic environment, not paid his wages on time and most importantly lacked the resources to excel in his job, but he knew all of that during his first term and yet accepted an improved offer to continue working in Iran (although physically residing in Dubai and abroad most of the time) . His agreement to extend his contract beyond World Cup 2014 was done after a series of press statements bad mouthing Iran’s football and its administration!

Is it worth it? Is qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2018 worth all of the insults, abuses and cruelties that this Portuguese man is giving to the Iranians in their own country?

A proud nation with thousands of years of culture is being taken to the cleaners by one vindictive man who has an agenda and that is quite literally, anarchy. His vindictive tactics is more petulant than clever too. Using a Persepolis player in his squad to unsettle Branko Ivankovic’s team preparation is one such leverage he selected to take revenge for the Croat coach!!

 The nation that stood against virtually all the great powers and refused to bow to their pressure thus holding its head up high and being proud of it, is unable to deal with the antics of one foreign football coach. Pity those who think that Queiroz is the only man in the world that can take Iran to the World Cup 2018.