Tag: Masoud Shojaei

Iran vs. Bosnia: Historic lookback

The “A” national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina will play a friendly match with Iran national team in Sarajevo on 12th November.

B&H and Iran have met 6 times so far. Five matches were friendly, while the only competitive match was played at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Iran is more successful in head-to-head matches, as it recorded 4 victories, while one match ended in a draw. The BH team achieved its only victory against Iran at the World Cup in Brazil.

These national teams met for the first time on 22nd July 2001 in Bihać, when they played a tie 2:2. Goals for Bosnia and Herzegovina were scored by Sead Seferović in the 7th, and Miroslav Dujmović in the 10th, while Sirous Dinmohammadi in the 16th and Iraj Fatemi in the 90th minute scored for Iran.

In the next 4 matches, Iran won. First at the Azadi Sports Stadium in Tehran on 10.08.2001 with the result 4:0 (Hasheminasab 5th and 90th, Karimi 65th, Daei 87th minute), then on 02.02.2005 at the same venue with 2:1 (Daei 38th, Borhani 74th – Elvir Bolić 18th minute).

The Azadi Sport Stadium hosted the fourth meeting between B&H and Iran on 31.05.2006. Iran won 5:2. The national team of Bosnia and Herzegovina had a 2:0 advantage in that match with goals scored by Zvjezdan Misimović in the 4th and Sergej Barbarez in the 17th minute, but the Iranians reversed the result through Mehrzad Madanchi (26th), Rahman Rezaei (45th), Vahid Hashemian 46th), Reza Enayatia (89th) and Rasoul Khatibi (90th minute).

The fifth match was played at the Asim Ferhatović-Hase Stadium in Sarajevo on 12.08.2009. And then Bosnia and Herzegovina took the lead with 2:0 with scored goals by Edin Džeko in the 52nd and 65th minute, but in the end, they were defeated with 2:3. Goals for Iran were scored by Masoud Shojaei in the 79th, Arash Borhani in the 86th, and  Andrenik ‘Ando’ Teymouriian in the 90th minute.

The last match of these teams was played on 25.06.2014 at the Fonte Nova Arena in El Salvador (Brazil) in the 3rd round of Group F of the World Cup. Bosnia and Herzegovina won 3:1, and the goals were scored by Edin Džeko in the 23rd, Miralem Pjanić in the 59th, and Avdija Vršajević in the 83rd minute. The only goal for Iran was scored by Reza Ghoochannejad in the 82nd minute.

The match will be played behind closed doors without the spectators at the Asim Ferhatović-Hase Stadium in Sarajevo on 12.11.2020.


Iran vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina Matches records



Venue Matches W D L Goals Goal Diff.
H 4 3 0 1 12 – 6 +6
A 2 1 1 0 5 – 4 +1
N 1 0 0 1 1 – 3 -2
Total 7 4 1 2 18 – 13 +5


Date Comp. H / A / N Final score Stadium Attendance
25.06.2014 FIFA World Cup / Group F N 1 – 3 Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador 48,011
12.08.2009 Friendly A 3 – 2 Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium – Sarajevo 20,000
31.05.2006 Friendly H 5 – 2 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 40,000
02.02.2005 Friendly H 2 – 1 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 10,000
10.08.2001 Others / LG CUP H 4 – 0 Azadi Stadium, Tehran 75,000
22.07.2001 Friendly A 2 – 2 Stadion NK Jedinstvo podno Boriæa , Bihac 5,000
12.09.1993 Friendly H 1 – 3 Azadi Stadium, Tehran

Maryam Shojaei to be honored.

Maryam Shojaei, who mounted a campaign — first anonymously and later publicly — that led to Iran allowing women to attend men’s soccer matches, is being honored with the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award, ESPN announced Tuesday.

The award is part of the Sports Humanitarian Awards, which typically are handed out during the week of the ESPYS. This year, the awards will be given out on various ESPN programs.


Women had been banned from watching men’s games since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, with only a few exceptions made for small groups on rare occasions. Shojaei, whose brother Masoud Shojaei is the captain of the men’s national team, initially criticized the ban on social media anonymously. She then started a five-year battle to allow women to see matches live in her country.

Shojaei, attended the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2015, displaying a banner but keeping her identity hidden. By 2018, she had helped create the #NoBan4Women petition, and she went to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Russia, where her banners were confiscated but she revealed her identity.

She kept pushing FIFA to uphold its policies against gender discrimination, and eventually, the soccer governing body sent a delegation to Iran, which resulted in women being allowed to attend men’s international matches.

In October 2019, women were allowed to watch the Iranian men’s national team beat Cambodia 14-0 in Tehran in a World Cup qualifier. The initial lot of 3,500 tickets for women sold out almost immediately, and an additional 1,100 were released — about 5% of the total tickets in the stadium.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has urged Iranian authorities to open up stadiums to women for domestic league games, not just World Cup qualifiers.

“This is a very positive step forward, and one which FIFA, and especially Iranian girls and women, have been eagerly waiting for,” FIFA said in a statement in October 2019. “The passion, joy and enthusiasm they showed today was remarkable to see and encourages us even more to continue the path we have started. History teaches us that progress comes in stages and this is just the beginning of a journey.

“Consequently, FIFA now looks more than ever towards a future when ALL girls and women wishing to attend football matches in Iran will be free to do so, and in a safe environment.

“There can be no stopping or turning back now.”

The ESPYS will be televised on ESPN on June 21 at 9 p.m. ET. The Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award is sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Wilmots need to really improve himself and be realistic.

Football coaches are a unique breed. They seem to know everything about football that others don’t know, they are most stubborn, do not accept defeat easily and blame the earth and the sky for the losses. It is exceptional to find a coach who admits that he screwed up and is to be blamed for bad performances or defeats. They live in denial and it seems that Marc Wilmots is doing just that … in denial.

“We did not deserve the losses against Bahrain and Iraq,” he said in his press conference, forgetting that results of matches are based on a team scoring goals and not willful thinking. Yes, Team Melli never deserves a defeat, after all Iranians are proud and passionate people who do not take lightly for being second best in any competition. So, what is new?

The reason for the two defeats might be a bit foggy for Mr Wilmots but down deep inside a person who has been in football for 30 years should hopefully know the points of failures that lead to the defeats, even if he would not admit to it in public.  Of course, Wilmots is correct not to blame one or two players for such a defeat, but that is an old and worn-out cliché. However, we all know the blame nearly always is on the shoulders of the coach. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but that is the way it is, after all, he picked those players. In these two matches, then, Wilmots is culpable and accountable for the losses no matter how much he blames luck.

There were contributory circumstances before the match that aided these defeats like lack of sufficient training sessions which would lead to a lack of understanding and failures to implement game plans. Only two days of training sessions for a crucial match does not cut it. Coaching and communicating with players are the essence of football training. It is really essential to know your players especially when you are new and there is a steep learning curve in the job. Those inept FFIRI managers who refused to pay his wages leading to a dispute are also culprits.

The role of Wilmots in both defeats is evident.

Against Bahrain in a hot and sticky humid weather when energy conversation and control of the midfield and defence is very essential away from home, Wilmots elects to have 3 forward and leave the midfield quite thin using a defender in Hajsafy, and a rookie player Mohebbi to assist the lone real midfielder Omid Ebrahimi!

The three attackers, Azmoun, Taremi and Ansarifard were stuck in traffic of Bahraini defenders and were even crowding each other upfront. The coach outlook to the game plan was poor and substitution late and ineffective.

The lineup against Iraq was much improved, but what was Shojaei doing there? Against a youthful, energetic and physical team like Iraq, the 36 years old veteran was sticking like a sore thumb, lost and hence became a liability. It is interesting to view Shojaei’s full data in the match, his pass completion rate would have not exceeded 50%, yet Wilmots never saw that and insisted on leaving him in the game until he was red-carded, while the team desperately needed a dynamo in this post! Let us not beat around the bush, it is the coach’s fault and no one else for having an ineffective midfield player in the twilight of his career while Iraq was operating with 5 full midfield players and taking control of the game.

These are just two examples of many that lead to the loss of Team Melli against Bahrain and Iraq. For good measure and ego, everyone can blame luck but the reality is the team did not play well at all. A win or a draw would have covered all the shortfall of the team and falsely showed a capable team while in reality there are many flaws in personnel and tactics.

Change yourself, and your luck will change.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

Sahar Khodayari succumbs to her burns, Esteghlal Club issues a condolance.

A lady football fan has died after setting herself on fire while facing a possible jail sentence for watching a game of football ‘illegally’ (…)  in Iran. This is a fact and not fiction.

Sahar Khodayari, a passionate Esteghlal Club supporter from her childhood was detained after she was caught trying to enter Azadi stadium while disguised as a man.

Women in Iran are banned from watching men play football in stadiums, despite the fact that there are no Koranic verses to support such act and it also is violates FIFA’s constitution.

The sports complex is known as the Azadi stadium. translated into freedom or liberty. The 29-year-old was held in jail for three days before being released on bail. On 2 September a Tehran court told her that she could be tried by a Revolutionary Court and face up to six months in prison for the most innocent of activities, which is carried out by millions of people all around the world, even in Saudi Arabia!.

After hearing the news, Sahar doused herself in petrol outside the court.

She suffered 90 per cent burns across her body.

The 29-year-old died on Monday, according to the semi-official Shafaghna news agency.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA’s president, had warned the Islamic Republic to allow women in stadiums or face sanctions, in remarks made in June. The 29-year-old has become known as “the blue girl” online, for the colour associated with Esteghlal, her favourite football team.

Her preferred disguise for watching matches was a blue wig and long overcoat, which also contributed to the nickname. Her sister told local media in Iran that Ms Khodyari had bipolar disorder and that her time in prison, before being released on bail, had led to her mental health deteriorating. Courts in Iran do not seem to understand, appreciate or sympathise with such conditions as the rest of the civilized world.

“What happened to Sahar Khodayari is heartbreaking,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research and Advocacy Director. “Her only ‘crime’ was being a woman in a country where women face discrimination that is entrenched in law and plays out in the most horrific ways imaginable in every area of their lives, even sports.”

Masoud Shojaei, the captain of Team Melli, paid tribute to the fan on Instagram. “As we are shocked by old limitations set for women, the future generations will be astonished to [find out] that women were banned from entering sports arenas in our time,” he said, according to Radio Farda.

Esteghlal has issued the following statement, offering condolences to Ms Khodayari’s family.

to the revered Khodayari’s family : The tragic and sorrowful demise of your beloved daughter, Sahar Khodayari, caused great grief in Esteghlal Club, especially within the supporters of the team. We extend our sincere condolences to you and to all your relatives who are suffering, and we ask God the Almighty for his mercy and patience to the family , friends and relatives. We pray for the well being of the survivors and the fans of football.

Andranik Teymourian, a former Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran’s major football stadiums should be named after Ms Khodayari.

Indeed it is a sad day when a person loses her life for fear of prosecution for doing nothing more innocent than attending a football match. It gives Iran as a country and a regime a very bad name all across the world when the country is in a dire need of a good reputation and some friends.

The death of Sahar comes only a few days after an Iranian athlete was ordered to forfeit a match just in case of the possibility of meeting an Israeli opponent.

World body to sanction Iranian judo federation as Saeid Mollaei says his family was threatened by the government to pressure him to avoid facing Israel’s Sagi Muki. Mollaei has since requested asylum in Germany after his family received veiled threats by the security apparatus of the regime. The judo champion and star said he is afraid to return home after exposing and criticizing his government’s pressure on him to deliberately lose in last week’s World Championships in Tokyo to avoid a potential bout against an Israeli opponent.

Team Melli starts camp among concerns about Hong Kong riots.

Team Melli started its preparation for the match versus Hong Kong in the qualification rounds of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar.  The team held its first training session at 6 pm on Sunday with 13 players.

Marc Wilmots spoke with his players for about 5 minutes before commencing field training. The Team Melli head coach also held a few minutes of tactical discussion with his technical staff.

The 13 players who attended the camp are all domestic league players, the Legionnaires are due to join as of tomorrow.

Those presents were : Masoud Shojaei, Ehsan HajSafi, Vahid Amiri, Siavash Yazdani, Hossein Hosseini, Vouria Ghafouri, Ali Karimi, Alireza Biranvand, Mehdi Torabi, Ahmad Nourollahi, Rashid Mazaheri, Mohammad Hosein Kanani Zadegan and Mohammad Naderi

The squad started the warm training under the guidance of assistant coach Vahid Hashemian while Wilmots and his assistants observed from the sidelines. There was no goalkeepers coach present at this session.

 Meanwhile, there is a concern in the Iranian federation as to the suitability and safety of the players in Hong Kong which is currently undergoing political disturbances and also disruptions of operations in the International airport. The latest development Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China is that demonstrators have blocked the roads into and out of the airport built on reclaimed land on the island of Chek Lap Kok. It has only one bridge to the mainland.

Mutual respect between coaches, but Queiroz is promising nothing!

Abu Dhabi

teammelli.com report

The pre-match press conference of Iran vs Yemen match was conducted in Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium earlier today.

Iran Conference.

Masoud Shojaei, who accompanied Carlos Queiroz started the press conference responding to teammelli.com question of “What is the level of the team performance in the match ahead that will satisfy him? Will the team be inspired and go forward with a narrow straight forward win , or a big score margin?”

 The Captain of Team Melli simply said “We want to be ourselves and play like we always play”

Questions then were asked of Queiroz, Answering about his statement that Yemen game is a final in itself; Queiroz said that there was a misunderstanding of what he has said.

“I didn’t say the game against Yemen was the most important game, I simply said that we will take each game as it comes and take it seriously. We are focusing on Yemen game, one game at the time.”

On his opinion on which team is the black horse of the championship.

 Queiroz said “As far as I am concerned , Japan and South Korea are the two top contenders as they have invested heavily in football, have expansive youth program, quality infrastructure and they have the resources.”

“Next comes  Australia  with and couple of dreamers!  20 or 21 other dreamers” as Queiroz put it.

Asked about his aspiration in the championship , Queiroz said that he does not consider his team as title contender. “All I can say is that we will try to be better and if we win we win deservedly. “

On the conditions of the players, The head coach of Team Melli said  “2 major players were not able to recover for the game on time, fortunately we have other options to replace them. It is not a major concern for us and I am happy with the situation, Injuries can happen to any team. UAE lost Omar Abdulrahman for the tournament and it already has a big impact on them”

Question ” Is there any lessons to be learned from the two games already played, UAE drew with Bahrain and title holder Australia lost to Jordan?

“It is always a warning for big teams. No team has a credit card that tells it that it is the favorite.  We have to display our abilities. Yemen has a good coach, I praise him for working under difficult conditions, and they have beautiful players.”

“We are looking to play a good match that entertains the fans and makes them happy; we do have the ability to display such standard.”

A question was asked by a reporter saying that Team Melli fans and indeed Iranian all across the world  followed you for many years now, what do you have to present to them in this championship?

“ We can’t control the outcome of the game!. We can control our commitment and attitude. I always challenge my players to play so that the fans are proud of them. Display positive attitude inside the pitch. Personally I feel proud if that is achieved”


Queiroz refrained from giving any promises apart from playing to entertain, as he put it. Short of entertainment, he has not declared or publicaly announced any championship aspiration as he puts Iran in the dreamers group with another 21 teams that plays second fiddle to Japan and Korea.

It is indeed a confusing and perhaps shattering statements for some fans who expect nothing less than lifting the trophy after 43 years of absence. It shows how Queiroz is detached from the public sentiments but if he really has such aspirations, then he is holding his cards close to his heart.

It needs no reminder that Queiroz is following his old and trusted style. By constantly reminding the world about the lack of resources in Iran and glorifying the opposition, even Yemen, he is limiting expectations. A win is a bonus but a loss is expected as he would easily respond by saying “I told you so”

Querioz has successfully navigated rough terrains of Iranian football by following such policy. Today he downplayed any championship expectation but it is not clear if the crowds like such lack of ambition.

Team Melli Training

The media was allowed to attend the first 15 minutes of the practice which was entirely dedicated to stretching exercise and light training with and without the ball. The goalkeepers then formed their own mini group and  headed to far side for shooting training.

Player formed several circles passing the ball between themselves.

While a group was passing the ball, Biranvand got whacked in the face. The players of the group surrounded him to console him. It looked painful, but he emerged out of it laughing.

Stretching exercises while the press was allowed to watch was carried out in a jolly spirit. Some players displayed exceptional control of the ball.

Jahanbakhsh individually trained with Montazerri. He looked quite sharp despite his chances of playing against Yemen is slim.

YEMEN Press Conference

Yemen’s Czech trainer expressed his views in the formal diplomatic style that coaches deploy nowadays. Calling Iran as one of the best Asian teams that has played very well in Russia’s World Cup, he said he has no delusions about that he expects and what he can be achieved. He has studied Iran and knows that his team has a difficult task ahead, however, he has asked his team to play to their best ability. On the troubles and war in Yemen, Jan Kocian said that most of the selection was carried out by his assistant and the Coaching team, though the training camp that was carried out in Saudi Arabia was quite valuable as they have played several games too.

Alaa Al Sasi , the star player of Yemen team  was asked if he has thought of any opposition player that the team need to control or limit his threats , he said that the coach has reviewed Iran thoroughly and we accept all their players are quite good but there is no plan to focus on any single player of Iran.

Kocian was asked what he thinks of Queiroz, the Czech coach said as a coach he has a lot respect for his colleagues, Carlos Queiroz is no exception but saying that he is a good coach who is well known outside of Iran. He knows that Queiroz has faced some pressures from the media and there were some uncertainties, but he remains an excellent coach.

Iran and Yemen will meet in the opener of Group D of AFC Asian Cup 2019 in Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on the 7th January.

Masoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejagah, join Tractorsazi

Both Captains of Team Melli , have joined Tractorsazi Tabriz, in the surprise transfer of the season.

While both have been playing in Europe and could have continued doing so, yet in a strange turn of event, they turned up in Tabriz with a lot of question marks on the motives of the move. Masoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejagah, two well-known and influential players of the Iranian national team who participated in the 21st World Cup recently in Russia, reached peculiar decision to join Tractorsazi team.

Though it will be very good news for the Tabrizi team, it will raise questions about the reasons for the decision made by Shojaei and Dejagah and wheter it hase been either coordinated or orchestrated, especially since the two players have signed up to a three-year contract with Tractorsazi, which is questionable and ambiguous.

Shojaei and Dejagah have joined a team whose owner has been a tremendous support for Team Melli in recent years and has even provided the squad with a special chartered Jet for the squad travels.

The two captains were expected to join Foreign teams with better prospective after the World Cup. Or, even if they did not do well in the European teams, they could have easily continued to play in the neighboring countries League, in particular Qatar.

The main question is why Massoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejagah have decided on the domestic league in the year leading up to the Asian Cup? The two joined the Tractorsazi while Queiroz always preferred and emphasized on the presence of players in international teams for greater readiness.

It is not clear if Shojaei and Dejagah, who have a close relationship with Queiroz – as national team captains – have consulted the Portuguese coach for their next season’s team selection?

It seems that reasons other than a simple choice in the transfer of Massoud Shojaee and Ashkan Dejagah have been influential.

Branco Ivankovic, who has won the Premier League for two consecutive seasons and has gained a lot of popularity among Persepolis fans, and even considered as a strong candidate to replace Queiroz  in the national team, now sees his opposition much stronger than before.

What’s clear is that Tractorsazi has built a strong team under John Toshack and will form a challenge to Persepolis and Esteghlal with the recruitment of Shojaei and Dejagah

President Rouhani receives Teami Melli delegation

The President of Islamic Republic of Iran congratulated the players and the technical staff in a meeting with the national football team (Team Melli).

 President Hassan Rouhani, Minister of Sports and Youth Masoud Soltanifar , Team head Coach Carlos Queiroz, and Cruz on behalf of the technical staff, Masoud Shojaei, Ehsan Haj Safi, Ashkan Dejagah, Karim Ansari Fard, Pejman Montazeri, Reza Ghoochannejad and Alireza Beyranvand were honored on behalf of the players and the secretary of the Football Federation and the head of the national team.

Rouhani also praised Iran’s refereeing team at the World Cup. Alireza Faghan, Reza Sokhtaneh and Mohammad Reza Mansouri are Iranian referees in the World Cup.

In this ceremony, Jersey No.2 of Team Melli was awarded to Hassan Rouhani.

Team Melli  which is  heading for the second consecutive World Cup and its fifth time in the World Cup, met with President Hassan Rouhani today (Sunday) and will be scheduled for a few minutes at a ceremony held at the Vahdat Hall of Tehran.  Hassan Rouhani met with members of the national team four years ago on the occasion of the national team’s ascent to the 2014 World Cup.

Iran MP slams appearance of Shojaei & Hajsafi in Team Melli


Sunday March 25, 2018

TEHRAN, Iran, Mar 25 – A conservative lawmaker in Iran slammed the sports federation on Sunday for allowing star footballer Masoud Shojaei to return to the international squad despite appearing against an Israeli team last year.

Shojaei, the 33-year-old national team captain, and teammate Ehsan Haji Safi were criticised in Iran after they appeared for their Greek club Panionios last August in a Europa League qualifier against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Deputy Sports Minister Mohammad Reza Davarzani said at the time that the pair would be banned for life.

Iran does not recognise the Jewish state and bars its athletes from appearing against Israelis.

Confusion has reigned over the matter, however, with Haji Safi never banned from the international squad, while Shojaei has missed all the international fixtures until Friday’s match against Tunisia, which Iran lost 1-0.

“Re-inviting Masoud Shojaei to be present in the national football team — after competing against the Zionist regime — shows that the football federation has not taken serious action on this issue,” hardline lawmaker Mohammad Ali Poormokhtar said in an interview with the conservative Fars news agency.

He said the sports minister would be questioned after the current break for the Iranian new year.

A combination photo shows Iran’s Ehsan Haji Safi (L) playing during a 2014 World Cup qualifying football match and Iran’s Masoud Shojaei playing during a World Cup 2018 qualifying match © AFP / Behrouz MEHRI, Karim JAAFAR

In a press conference ahead of the Tunisia match, Shojaei said: “I am very happy to be a member of this team. Although the final list (for the World Cup squad) has not been announced yet, the fact that right now I am in this team means I am very happy and proud.”

Iran cannot admit it bans players for appearing against Israelis because there are strict international rules against political interference in sports.

The issue has come to the fore in recent weeks after wrestler Alireza Karimi Mashiani was given a six-month ban for deliberately losing a world championship match in Poland in November in order to avoid an Israeli opponent in the next round.

The head of Iran’s wrestling federation quit last month in disgust, saying young athletes were being forced to lie and the authorities were letting them pay the price for their policies.

“Forcing an athlete to accept defeat or run around all night looking for a doctor’s note is not right,” Rasoul Khadem, an Olympic gold medallist, told public radio ahead of his resignation.

Iran is due to play another friendly against Algeria in Tehran on Tuesday.

FIFA Demands Explanation Over Ousted Iranian Footballers

FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), has demanded the Islamic Republic to provide further information over its decision to drop two footballers from Iran’s national team, after they played for their Greek side against an Israeli team.

Captain of Iran’s National Football team, Masoud Shojaei and his teammate, Ehsan Hajsafi played for full ninety minutes in their Greek team, Panionios home match in Athens against the Israeli club, Maccabi Tel Aviv on Wednesday, August 3.

The midfielders were not present at the away match in Israel.

Nevertheless, Iran’s Football federation last week strongly condemned their participation in the home leg of the matches.

Meanwhile, conservatives in Iran bombarded the pair with threats.

“Hajsafi and Shojaei’s move in no way constitutes endorsement and it will certainly be addressed according to regulations and the law,” said Director of Security at Iran’s Sports Ministry, Mohammad Javad Ababaf, adding, “Most probably the pair are going to lose their spots in the national squad. Nevertheless, we should wait for officials’ final verdict.”

Then, on Thursday, August 10, Ministry of Sports’ deputy, Mohammad Reza Davarzani put the final nail in the coffin, declaring, “Both footballers have lost their spot on Iranian National Team… they crossed Iran’s red line”.

Previously it was announced that the final verdict will be issued after a person to person interview with Shojaei and Hajsafi.

FIFA’s statutes ban political interference in its affiliated national associations, which can be suspended if the rule is breached.

Argentina's Lionel Messi fights for the ball against Iran's Mehrdad Pouladi (L) and Ehsan Hajsafi (R) during their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match. June 21, 2014

Argentina’s Lionel Messi fights for the ball against Iran’s Mehrdad Pouladi (L) and Ehsan Hajsafi (R) during their 2014 World Cup Group F soccer match. June 21, 2014

“We are currently monitoring the matter and will request additional information from the Iran Football Federation,” said a FIFA spokesperson in an emailed statement to Reuters. “We have no further comment for the time being.”

If a country’s FA is suspended, it means both the national team and its clubs are barred from international competition.

Iran has already qualified for next year’s World Cup, making it an especially delicate matter for FIFA.

FIFA statutes state that “each member association shall manage its affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties”.

However, positive reactions to the pair’s move on social media were quite significant. In most comments, Shojaei and Hajsafi were praised for their courageous “professionalism” and respect for sports international regulations.

There were also comments that branded the move as “an end to the regime’s injustice against Iranian athletes”.

Moreover, a twitter campaign labelled as #NoBan4Ourplayers has been launched by Iranians to defend Shojaei and Hajsafi’s “courageous move”, protest against their elimination from the national side and raise concerns over its consequences.

An internationally known former Iranian football star, Mehdi Mahdavi Kia wrote on his Instagram account, “The moments you made people of Iran joyous will never be forgotten. Let’s hope for the day that politics leaves sports behind and action replaces words”.