Tag: Hamid Sajjadi

Possible sanctions against athletes.

Iranian athletes could face punishment if they don’t participate in annual Quds Day marches across the country later this month, according to IranWire, in what would be yet another example of state interference in sports.

The Islamic Republic’s authorities are organizing the rallies on the last Friday of the Islamic month of Ramadan, which this year falls on April 14, in solidarity with the Palestinians.

A directive seen by IranWire and signed by Karamali Iraji, the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Sports and Youth, says that athletes are required to attend the rallies, citing the “noble cause of…the Palestinian resistance,” a resolution of the Coordination Council for Islamic Propagation and instructions by the Tehran Governorate.

The directive was agreed upon last week during a meeting between Minister of Sports and Youth Hamid Sajjadi and his deputies.

The source at the Ministry of Sports and Youth who provided the document to IranWire said that copies were sent to all provincial sports boards across the country.

The ministry is considering possible incentives for athletes who will attend the state-sanctioned rallies and punishment for those who won’t, the source said.

Iranian sports has become increasingly politicized. Most sports bodies had been taken over by political or security-military organizations, with former members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps holding key positions in clubs and federations. Many footballers were sanctioned or punished for their support of the protests including Ali Karimi, Aldi Daei, Vouria Ghafouri.

Earlier this year, the European Union imposed sanctions on Sajjadi for pressuring Iranian athletes into silence, including climber Elnaz Rekabi who competed in South Korea without mandatory headscarves amid widespread anti-government protests inside Iran.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it had “expressed serious concerns over the past few months vis-à-vis the situation of the Iranian athletes and the Olympic community as a whole in the current context of the upheavals and demonstrations in the country.”

The IOC has urged the Iranian National Olympic Committee to “take appropriate action with the highest authorities to protect the athletes and members of the Olympic community from a humanitarian perspective.”

The statement warned that the IOC Executive Board “reserves the right to take any appropriate action” relating to the participation of the Iranian NOC and athletes in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, “depending on the developments in this situation.”

Minister of Sports in critical condition following the helicopter crash.

A helicopter carrying the minister of sports on Thursday evening, crashed while landing in the sports complex of Baft city, in Kerman province. There were multiple injuries and one death due to the crash.

According to ISNA, the head of the Kerman Emergency Services Directorate said that Hamid Sajjadi, the sports minister suffered a cerebral hemorrhage as a result of the helicopter crash, and the work of transferring him from the hospital to the provincial medical centers is underway. Also, Ismail Ahmadi, the director general of the sports minister’s office, was one of the victims of the helicopter accident carrying the sports minister, who died in this accident. His body will be flown to Tehran.

According to eyewitnesses at the scene of the crash, the helicopter lost control and auto-rotated near the ground while attempting to land. The governor of Kerman said: “The helicopter carrying the Minister of Sports had twelve passengers who were injured while landing in Baft Stadium, but the condition of the passengers is good. The helicopter landed once but then bounced off the ground and lifted into the air but shortly after it came crashing down to the ground. The cause of the accident, which the observers attributed to pilot error and heavy landing is under official investigation .

The Iranian Red Crescent has announced that 16 people were injured in this incident which means that at least four people on the ground have also been injured.

In the latest news update, it is announced that Sajjadi’s condition is critical.

Iranian handicapped legionnaires missing in Turkey.

in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake in Turkey and Syria where the death toll tops 7,100 as more victims are found, three Iranian footballers playing professionally in Turkey’s Malatyaspor Kulübü have not heard of since the massive quake hit southeastern Turkey.

The three athletes are handicapped and represent Iran at international levels.

 Yeni Malatyaspor Kulübü is a Turkish professional football club based in Malatya, Turkey. The club plays in the TFF First League, which is the second tier of football in the country.

The Minister of Sports and Youth demanded an immediate follow-up on the matter. Seyed Hamid Sajjadi told the Sports Federation of Veterans and the Disabled and the office Foreign relations office, the Ministry of Sports and Youth has a mission to follow up on the situation of these athletes through the available channels with urgency. According to this report, Mohammad Reza Mirahmadi, Mehdi Saeedavi, and Hamed Matroudi are three Iranian footballers, who have not been heard from since the tragic earthquake in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Shervin Esbaghian, the head of the Veteran and Handicapped Sports Federation (Special Needs federation)  said on the sidelines about the Iranian soccer legionnaires who are Handicapped ” there is no news about them since last night, as our international relations department has been in communication with the Turkish federation seeking news. They are also persistent and the city where these players were present has suffered major damage, despite our efforts, sadly there is no definite news about their condition. They informed us that their mobile phones are on and ringing, but no one is answering. I hope they have survived that ordeal and come back home soon. The federation will follow up and if we receive any news, we will inform you as soon as we have any news.”

Sajjadi accused by Majlis (Parliament) of mismanagement

Story by Mina Aldroubi, Nada AlTaher 

Iran’s Parliament gave a warning on Tuesday to Sports Minister Hamid Sajjadi, accusing him of mismanaging the ministry, the Fars news agency reported.

Mr Sajjadi spoke to parliamentarians in an open session on Tuesday to brief officials on the ministry’s financial problems and expenses, especially regarding the country’s football teams.

It came after the Iranian men’s national team (Team Melli) failed to progress past the group stages of December’s World Cup in Qatar.

“The MPs were not satisfied with Sports Minister Sajjadi’s answer about the mismanagement situation in professional sports, especially football, and he received a yellow card from the parliament,” said the agency.

Yellow cards are the Parliament’s way of holding cabinet members accountable by summoning them for questioning or interpellations, a report by Germany-based think tank Carpo said.

“Depending on the minister’s performance, interpellations can lead to ‘yellow cards’ or impeachments. Even the President can be challenged through this mechanism,” the report said.

At the World Cup in Qatar, Iranians were seen wearing the “Women, Life, Freedom” slogan made famous during months-long protests in the country, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody on September 16.

Hamid Sajjadi practically runs Iran’s football federation. He was the force behind the sacking of Dragan Skočić and restoring Carlos Queiroz to Team Melli and hence accountable for the failure of the team in the World Cup 2022. The government of Iran is the largest contributor to the football federation coffer, some claim, the only contributor to the FFIRI budget. Other federation income is mostly from FIFA and AFC for Iran’s participating in international tournaments. The government of Iran always denies interfering in football and claims that FFIRI elections are free from outside interference, however, events in the last general election and the return of the disgraced Mehdi Taj refutes such claims.

In any case, even if Hamid Sajjadi is kicked out of the Ministry, the one that will replace him will continue on the same path and the same objective of using sports, particularly football, as a tool to serve the regime.

Another twist in the tale of women entry into stadiums.

The Minister of Sports, Hamid Sajjadi once again highlighted the reluctance of the regime in allowing women entry into the stadium. The tactics of procrastinating the issue have been Modus Operandi of the authorities whose clerical hierarchy strongly oppose the presence of women in stadium calling it a sin and a corrupt act. Faced with pressure from FIFA, Iran has exceptionally allowed the presence of women in Azadi on one occasion. However, the authorities have been coming up with all sorts of excuses to procrastinate the issue for as long as they could.

In response to FIFA’s letter about allowing women entry into football stadiums during league competitions, the Minister of Youth and Sports Sajjadi said: “FIFA has proposed the presence of women in league competitions in its letter. I emphasize that FIFA’s letter was only a recommendation. We are following up to identify stadiums that have proper infrastructure and meet the conditions of the supreme religious Council, security, and law enforcement guidelines. Meetings have already started in this regard and it had nothing to do with FIFA’s letter. When we started this work, they said that a couple of years ago, arrangements were made for allowing women into the stadiums at both national team and club competitions. We also follow the same arrangements and if a commitment was made and something was signed, it was from Iran. After all, this is the name of Iran and it doesn’t matter if I am a minister or someone else. They have talked about this. Because of the FIFA guidelines, then it has to be followed one by one. For example, FIFA says that certain standards must be applied in the stadiums for the spectators’ safety, the parking and dressing rooms should be like this, and the standards of the stadiums should be like that”.

CAS Ruling on Wilmotts case starts a war of words and finger pointing!

After the Supreme Sports Court CAS ruled against Iran’s Football Federation and ordered that the former head coach of Team Melli , Marc Wilmots, be awarded euros 3,300,000 in compensation, Mehdi Taj, the former head of the FFIRI, defended his performance in the case and accused others of shortcomings that lead to this heavy fine.

Mehdi Taj’s reasonings, however, were far from convincing and lacked factual data which prompted rections from the media, legal experts, and members of the parliament. Although Taj failed to clarify the ambiguities in his own defense while at the helm of the federation that recruited the failure Wilmots, it did, however, uncover some insight into how this federation was poorly managed.

Taj’s main defense against the breach of contract is the US sanctions on Iran. The non-payment of Wilmott’s wages was due to his federation’s inability to honor the contract. However,  faced by many questions on the authenticity of his claim, he could only offer one answer to how was it that the previous coach, Carlos Queiroz was getting his wages regularly despite the same US sanction prevailing, by suggestiong that the US Sanctions got worst in the case of Wilmott’s  !!

This issue drew criticism from MP Ehsan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who claimed that the compensation for the Wilmots case should be paid by the members of the former Board of Directors of FFIRI including Taj as they were accountable and culpable for such public funds wastage and misappropration.

Meanwhile, Hamid Sajjadi, the Minister of Sports and Youth last night, called the case of the former head coach of Team Melli as “Wilmots Tsunami” and said: “What we saw in the report is like the tip of the iceberg that is sticking out of the water.” In our meetings, I named it “Wilmots Tsunami “.

Despite the accountability of Mehdi taj and his responsibility for the failure of Wilmot both on and off the field, Taj managed to sneak in and register his name as a candidate for the new federation board and the Presidency of FFIRI!

The lack of accountability and due process has allowed many corrupt managers to get away with murder in Iran. The reality is that the country is infested with corrupt, inept, and/or incompetent managers who run public organizations to the ground with immunity. FFIRI seems to attractct all the shady elemnts.

Blatant interference by the Minister of Sports in deciding on Team Melli Head Coach!!!

The minister of Sports Hamid Sajjadi, stressing that the post of the head coach of the national team should be resolved sooner, announced an important meeting with the head of the football federation to determine the position of the national team bench.

Regarding the situation of Team Melli, he noted that “the uncertainty of the national team should end soon. Today, one of our meetings will be with Mirshad Majdi. They (FFIRI) have carried out studies and conducted inquiries. Today we are talking to each other and we are with the national team and we will help. We have received the necessary support from the government to provide any material and moral support to the technical decisions of the federation.”

Sajjadi continued “It is not advisable for the Ministry of Sports to interfere in any of the sports fields. Even in athletics, I don’t allow them to interfere in technical matters. We respect the technical point of view of the federations.”

In response to the question of whether Iranian coaches should be selected for Team Melli, the Minister of Sports said “During the past few days, there have been two schools of thought about the use of Iranian or foreign coaches, all of these are being analyzed, and a final decision taken by two committees of the FFIRI technical committee and the board of directors. The chairman will review these views and finally come today to make the final decision in our meeting”.

Sajjadi never explained why the appointment of Team Melli head coach must be decided with the presence of the government who always claims that they are not interfering in the FFIRI. The reality is that beyond any doubt much if not all major decisions in football in Iran are influenced by the government who are even not intelligent enough to disguise the fact.

This meeting announcement by Sajjadi is the biggest proof that the Ministry of Sporty is directly interfering with football, despite their repeated denials.

Khodadad Azizi: The Ministry of Sports is plotting for the return of Queiroz!

Former Team Melli player, Khodadad Azizi has claimed that individuals from the Ministry or the Minister of Sports have held talks with Carlos Queiroz to take over as the head coach of Iran’s national football team. That claim has resulted in a swift response by the Ministry through its Legal Director-General who announced the right to legally sue Azizi in courts.

According to ISNA, Khodadad Azizi, who was supposed to be part of the FFIRI delegation that was to travel to Canada with Team Melli and who is named as Karim Bagheri’s replacement in the coaching staff, said in response to the recent marginalization of the national football team. “The reliable news is that gentlemen delegated by the Ministry of Sports and Hamid Sajjadi, the Minister of Sports, have held talks with Queiroz. It is interesting to note how we are stepping backward with the return of Queiroz and who is behind that? Do you want to make us a Portuguese football colony again? Let’s all stand hand in hand against this Queiroz again. Do you want this man who would tell us when to take a shower, when to stand up and when to sit down? Have you forgotten?”.

Morteza Fallah, Director-General of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Sports and Youth, pointed to the statements of  “one of the former Iranian football players” as he put it, and clarified that “these statements were made without any basis or fact. No negotiations were conducted by the Ministry of Sports and Youth with any coach. and the accusations are definitely false and we reserve the right to legally pursue these allegations.”

He added: “While the Ministry of Sports and Youth and the respected spokesperson of the government has explicitly stated that they do not and will not intervene in the technical issues and competence of the Football Federation in any way, some people, disregarding the supervisory duties of the Ministry of Sports and Youth, have made accusations against the government and the ministry that it is devoid of truth and a clear example of spreading lies.”

Team Melli instability continues to raise concerns.

The countdown to the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has reached 134. While all the teams in the most important football tournament in the world have prepared their plans with the necessary support, resources, and detailed requirement in order to get the best performance tout of their teams, the case in Iran is quite different.

Team Melli is facing many challenges and struggling despite the fact that they qualified early and with many matches to spare. The crisis began after the dismissal of the Head of the federation, it is now embroiled in rumors of the impending dismissal of Dragan Skocic from his post as head coach of the national team.

“Behind the scenes, the intervention of people outside the football federation to bring about change has put undue pressure on the federation. Controversially several players of Team Melli are playing significant roles to push for change. Mirshad Majedi, the acting head of the Football Federation, entered the fray after seeing the two parties that had arisen among Team Melli players in stories supporting or criticizing Dragan Skocic, to end the matter for good by contacting them directly.
Majedi conveyed his displeasure about the behavior of the players to the senior members of the Iranian national team. He, who was surprised by the arrival of several new players in the recent camp of the team, postponed dealing with them to another time to show that he has decided to talk to the main players of the squad and calm the created atmosphere.

Among the strong supporters of Skocic, Azamoun and Taremi have been the most vocal. In an act of sedation, some new players, led by provocateurs are supporting the other side. The partisan is also clearly felt in the media which are taking sides, instead of encouraging stability and accepting the Croat.

The efforts of Majedi to change the atmosphere team’s dressing room have been counteracted by secret meetings in the corridors of the Ministry of Sports. Majedi, who no longer categorically dismisses Dragan Skocic’s departure, is now struggling with all kinds of demands to replace the Croatian head coach. The catalyst of these demands comes from the Ministry which has a long history of interference behind the scenes and applying all sorts of pressures to the extent of threats to get to their demands. In public, however, The Ministry always manitains the official policy of non-interference in FFIRI affairs and respect for the federation as an independent entity.

Some patrons of Carlos Queiroz have secretly held meetings with the officials of the Ministry of Sports during Majedi’s tenure as acting head and demanded the return of the Portuguese. Meetings that were supported and perhaps attended by several representatives of the Islamic Council (the Parliament) who demanded the explicit intervention of Hamid Sajjadi, the Minister of Sports in the affairs of the FFIRI. However, Sajjadi, aware of FIFA’s sensitivity to the subject and Iran being very close to being sanctioned because of several issues, including females attendance in stadiums, has announced that he will not get directly involved in the story, but an old Queiroz advocate who is closely related to Sajjadi has given strong indications of the return of the Portuguese man creating an atmosphere of insecurity and agitation.

 Will Skocic achieve his dream of sitting on the bench of the national team in the World Cup? Will Queiroz becomes the head coach of Team Melli due to external pressures? Will an Iranian option leads the national team? You have to wait a few more days to get answers to these questions

The Football mafia is at it again!

Team Melli lost to Algeria 2-1 in a friendly match in Doha, and that triggered the Iranian football mafia into action. It was like the ideal result for them to call for the head of the current head coach and calls for the former one to return at the helm of Team Melli.

Commenting on such scenario, Bijan ZolfagharNasab the former player and coach of the Iranian national football team who is currently an Advisor to the Minister of Youth and Sports, in reference to Dragan Skocic status, said: “He is the best option now and the atmosphere should not be made more polluted than what is now.”

Team Melli training camp was attended by the Iranian Minister of youth Sports Hamid Sajjadi who held private meetings with senior players such as Omid Ebrahimi, Ehsan HajSafi, Mehdi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun, Alireza Biranvand, and Alireza Jahanbakhsh the night before the match. A meeting in which the players complained about the process of preparing the team for a respectable representation of the country in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

After the 2-1 loss, a result that would not be so critical to any national team in a friendly match, rumors were circulating about the possibility of a change in the coaching staff and the departure of Dragan Skocic less than five months before the start of the first game against England, with the typical name of Carlos Queiroz mentioned in addition to Javad Nekounam as possible replacements.

These rumors intended with malice were accompanied by an official reaction from the Ministry of Sports and Youth regarding interference in technical issues and the selection of the head coach of the Iranian national football team. Mohsen Motamedkia, head of public relations at the Ministry of Sports, said: “The absolute position of the Ministry of Sports and Youth has been to support the decisions made by the Football Federation (FFIRI) from the very beginning, and this position still stands.”

“The Ministry of Sports and Youth has no input in technical matters and only acts as a supporter and a patron behind all sports federations, including the football federation.”

Referring to some rumors, citing yesterday’s meeting of six national team players with Hamid Sajjadi, he noted:” The Minister knows and is aware of sports etiquette well and is fully acquainted with the position of the technical staff, and this meeting was requested by the supervisor and The technical staff of the national team was held and they listened to the concerns of these players for nearly two hours on behalf of the other players and in the presence of the team leader and member of the board of directors of the federation. “

In an interview with Mehr, Bijan ZolfagharNasab commented on criticism of Dragan Skocic: “I think we have witnessed one of the sloppiest games of the Iranian national team in the last decade. We ran after the ball without a purpose and had no strategy to win.” The Adviser to the Minister of Sports then commented on whether it is necessary to change the coaching staff of Team Melli before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar: “I do not consider it appropriate to change the current situation. I think we have little chance until the World Cup games. Any change can be to our detriment. Dragan Skocic has done very well and should not be judged by a technical error in a friendly preparation match. “

Zulfiqar Nasab clarified the rumors of the return of Carlos Queiroz: “Mr. Queiroz worked hard for national football, but if he was going to do something worthwhile, he would have done it in the eight years. he was at the helm.  I do not know what changes are going to happen to Team Melli with his presence, which is not possible now. Taking command of the national team at this stage does not cure any pain. We came to a conclusion with him anyway,”

About Skocic, ZolfagharNasab “He kept his faith in these same players. Skocic is the best option at the moment”

As for lack of forward planning and poor management in the Football Federation particularly in arranging friendly international matches for Team Melli: “Unfortunately, there is no sign of planning.  The national team needs preparation for games with teams like England and Wales that have a high physical form. “The former coach of the Iranian national team noted: “We have a very difficult job with the current conditions to qualify out of the group. We can not stand to be counted against the best in the world by relying on the individual ability of the players. This team’s success is a long and complicated process. It needs a chain from the management of the federation all the way to the team players.