Tag: Mehdi Taj

The match versus Capo Verde is OFF !!

As usual yet another friendly match arranged by FFIRI is canceled only days after it is announced!!

Mehdi Taj, head of FFIRI, has earlier announced that a match against Capo Verde has been agreed upon, with the venue still to be confirmed but most probably it will be in Tehran.

Today, the director of Team Melli had something else to say about the international friendly matches on FIFA Day.

According to Mehdi Mohammad Nabi; the contract for the first friendly match, which is scheduled to be held on September 07, against the Bulgarian national team, has been approved by both federations, the relevant confederations, and FIFA. He added: Regarding the second friendly match which is scheduled to be held on September 12, considering that the Cape Verde national team has an official match against the Togo national team on September 10, and based on the statements of the representative of the mentioned federation, they have not succeeded in changing the time of the official game!!!. Accordingly, Cape Verde will not be able to play the friendly match in Tehran. (…)

He added: “We are trying to take the necessary measures after consulting with the head coach of Team Melli for finding other options for the second friendly game.”

Yet again, it is another messy, amateurish act by this federation whose intellect and professionalism are on par with that of primary school pupils, with the utmost respect for the kids. How on earth, they even think of arranging a friendly match with a National Team that plays in Africa, and expect the squad to be in Tehran two days later for a match against Team Melli, is beyond comprehension!!!

Iranian football has for the last four decades severely suffered from mismanagement, failures, screw-ups, and a lack of common sense in the most basics of administration and management. We are not even approaching corruption, political interference, nepotism, and bias.

The standard of management personnel, mostly inept former or current civil servants, Basij, revolutionary guards, and regime loyalists, have left Iran’s football handicapped and absent from crowing and championships for nearly half a century.

And there is NO hope of any improvement in sight.

Afshin Ghotbi in the shortlist for coaching Omid Team.

The Iranian Football Federation is considering former Team Melli and Persepolis head coach Afshin Ghotbi as a candidate for coaching Iran’s Omid team (U21). This comes after a 3-hour meeting between Mehdi Taj, Mehdi Mohammad Nabi, and Habib Kashani to discuss the appointment of a new head coach for the team. Other names being considered include Mojtaba Hosseini and Mehdi Tartar.

In the meantime, the name of Afshin Ghotbi, the former head coach of the Iranian national football team, was added to the list of coaches available and willing to take the job. In past meetings, names such as

The coach will take over the assignment ahead of two important competitions, the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou in September 2023 and the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

Two Iranian candidates and one foreign are being shortlisted according to an announcement by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) to the Football Federation. It is also determined that this appointment must be determined by May 25 so that this team is ready to participate in the Asian Games. In this regard, the Football Federation has decided to identify the head coach of the Omid national team by May 24 and introduce him to the National Olympic Committee. Also, after last night’s meeting, Mehdi Taj, the president of the football federation, and Mehdi Mohammad Nabi, the vice president of the federation, left for Qatar to participate in the draw of the  AFC Asian Cup 2023, which will be held on Thursday.

The coaching of the Omid Team has left many of those with heads down with failure after failure in all official competitions. Apart from some odd exceptions, the FFIRI tends to pick some inconspicuous or obscure coaches to save on wages and the result is inevitably, elimination from the competitions. With the Olympic Games, there is an added situation as the Iranian NOC is involved and history shows some bitter disagreement between the two sides (FFIRI and NOC) on various issues

Ghotbi is currently the head coach of Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC, He was appointed in November of last year. Before that Ghotbi coached in the Chinese league with Cangzhou Mighty Lions.

Taj “Team Melli’s head coach name will be announced by March 19th”

Mehdi Taj, the head of the football federation admitted that the people of Iran want a foreign coach for Team Melli, but they should also consider domestic options.

Mehdi Taj also commented on the withdrawal of two Iranian coaches (Ghalenoei and Tartar) from the race to occupy the head coach seat in the national team. ” the federation should use its best capacities and our duty was to invite capable coaches. If a head coach does not consider himself ready, the federation will use its other options. Of course, in the survey, people declared their preference for a foreign coach, but we have good coaches inside the country who can manage the national team under them.”

In response to the question, of whether he held a meeting with the Reublic’s vice president Mr. Mokhbir? Taj said:  “We should use all the support that the government awards us to make the best decision. We were also looking forward to meeting Mr. Mokhbir. As for the Team Melli coach. we have both domestic and foreign options, but we have not reached a conclusion yet. If we form the national team today, we will not be able to provide a player to the new head coach because the players are busy with the League. We have 2 friendly games in March and we will introduce the head coach before the 19th of March. All Football stakeholders including the players are aware of our limitations.”

Taj was asked, “who are the foreign nominees for the Head Coach Job? and is Felix Sanchez, the former head coach of the Qatar national team amongst them?”
In response, he said: “Iranian nominees have been publicized. We are also considering foreign coaches and one of them is the former head coach of Qatar (Felix Sanchez). We also have a number of domestic coaches. The national team is the place of the best and the best will be selected for Team Melli.

“What about foreign currency restrictions and the exchange rate situation, will they have no problem hiring a foreign coach under the circumstances? Taj said: “We will have problems transferring money and paying in hard currency. Also, we don’t want to fall into the same trap as we did with the Wilmots case, and we shouldn’t delay the payment. FIFA rules stipulate the contracts must be honored and not be breached.” Taj added: “If the salary is not paid for three months and the plaintiff complains to FIFA, he can take all the money due to him for the remainder of the contract period. Based on this clause. Stramaccioni, Calderon, Wilmots, and Branco Ivankovic used this ruling to claim all the money and we don’t want to get into this problem. We must be sure that we can fully provide this money. If we are not sure, we will definitely go for the domestic option.

Team Melli fans prefer a foreign coach.

The Iranian news agency ISNA conducted two polls online which showed that the majority of Team Melli fans prefer a foreign coach to lead Team Melli after the departure of  Carlos Queiroz.

Under the guidance of the Portuguese head coach, Iran finished third in the group at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 with one win, two losses, and 3 points and failed to qualify for the knockout stage. The credit for qualification to the 2022 World Cup finals is given to Croat Dragan Skocic who was dismissed shortly after the arrival of Mehdi Taj.

Now the national team is without a head coach, and in less than a year, the AFC Asian Cup 2023 will be played in Qatar. Meanwhile, the football federation is still debating the appointment of a coach while its head, Mehdi Taj has implied that the future Team Melli coach will be an Iranian from the domestic league.

Currently, there are some local football experts who consider the appointment of an Iranian coach to be the most suitable, while others disagree and believe that none of the Iranian coaches currently operating in Iran is capable of leading Team Melli. Based on this, the Iranian Students News Agency ISNA conducted two polls on its website and Telegram channel and asked its audience this question, “Which option do you agree with to lead the national football team, Iranian or foreign coach? “

The results of these two polls show that a majority of ISNA’s audience prefers that the helm of the Iranian national football team be entrusted to a foreign coach in the future. 59% of the participants in the Isna site poll voted for the foreign option and 41% agreed with the Iranian option.

Mehdi Taj “National coach is better for Team Melli”

Mehdi Taj, in a TV show, said that a national coach is much better than a foreign import to lead Team Melli.

This represents a U-turn and a change of heart from a person who has always advocated the recruitment of foreign coaches for Team Melli.

Taj admitted that the federation’s limited financial resources are a big obstacle against recruiting a foreigner. He emphasized the FIFA rule regarding the contract between coaches and football federation members of FIFA, in which a two months arrear and no payment by the federation not only gives the coach the right to unilaterally cancel the contract but also claim the rest of the contract period dues. It is believed that Marc Wilmots used this rule against FFIRI and managed to win the case. The remainder of the contract wages amounted to nearly 2 million Euros. Incidentally, it was Mehdi Taj who recruited Wilmots, and it was also Taj who failed with his administration to honor the contract with the Belgian coach by not paying him for over two months citing a lack of cash flow.

“We are considering domestic and foreign coaches,” the head of the football federation said about the final option for the national team: “There are two different views, one side has reservations about recruiting a domestic coach, while the other side fundamentally believes in them ( local coaches). We have always been proud of our domestic coaches. Mohajerani, Parveen, and Daei have worked hard for the nation, and recently, Nekounam and other coaches have also been there.”

“In the foreign dimension, for example, Queiroz has helped us a lot. We are under sanctions and are unable to pay a foreign coach,” Taj said, referring to international banking sanctions. If we have cash here, it is not practical to transfer it abroad. One of the defendants in the Wilmots case is me and other members of the board of directors. We were accused because we could not pay him. Calderon, Branco, and Stramaccioni are other examples who left and filed court cases against us because they didn’t get their money.”

It is clear that the next coach of Team Melli is going to be domestic. That cannot be good news for Team Melli fans as many believe that Iran’s domestic league has failed to produce any quality coach who is capable of leading the nation at the international level.

Former Team Melli coach on his way to Qatar.

Carlos Queiroz, who was the head coach of the Iranian national team at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, is on the verge of becoming the new coach of Qatar, DN, a Portuguese news website, reported on Tuesday.

According to DN, the Portuguese coach is on his way to Doha to sign a contract and will soon be announced as the new coach of the Qatar national team.
The 69-year-old Queiroz is one of the seven Portuguese coaches handling foreign teams.

The list includes Fernando Santos (Poland), Rui Vitória (Egypt), Pedro Gonçalves (Angola), Paulo Duarte (Togo), Hélio Sousa (Bahrain), and José Peseiro (Nigeria).

Meanwhile in Tehran, the local media reported that the Iran football federation has negotiated with the 67-year-old Argentine coach Cuper.

Cuper was sacked by DR Congo after a poor start to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying in June 2022. The coach has had spells in charge of Valencia, Inter Milan, and Egypt.

“I’ve recently seen the rumors on social media but the federation has not negotiated with the coach,” Mehdi Taj said. The federation didn’t renew the Carlos Queiroz coach’s contract after a dismal run in the 2022 FIFA World Cup .

Taj also said the head coach of the Iran U23 football team will be named as soon as possible.

Mehdi Taj “FIFA still investigating Iran-Lebanon match incidents.”

The President of Iran’s football federation FFIRI Mehdi Taj said that the verdict on the controversial Iran-Lebanon match in Mashad in World Cup 2022 qualifiers is still under investigation by FIFA.

According to Taj, the case is still open with FIFA.

“Our case is in the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and the President of FIFA can only postpone it. He has no authority or influence beyond that,” Taj declared “the jurisdiction and the verdict is only in the hands of the Disciplinary Committee.”

Infantino helped Iran before the start of the FIFA World Cup 2022 to prevent what would have been a serious risk of Team Melli being sanctioned. After the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup, the serious violation committed by the government and security forces at and around Imam Reza Stadium will be addressed. The violations include preventing females from entering the stadium despite carrying official tickets, using undue force in doing so, and serious overcrowding and lack of safe practices and crowd control measures at entry and exits of the venue.

FIFA Disciplinary Committee must issue a ruling in this regard, which could be anything from depriving Team Melli of playing home games in Iran to heavy fines or both.

There could also be other ramifications for FFIRI as, despite the promises given to FIFA about females being allowed into stadiums, the hardliners and religious hierarchy are not happy with such a ruling and have defied FIFA and forced their own will on the subject matter. Suspension of Iran from FIFA and AFC is a possibility, though remote.

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.

Mehdi Taj, The arrogant and condescending head of FFIRI under fire.

In a feeble attempt by Mehdi Taj to cover his own personal shortfalls and those of his administration, the president of the football federation FFIRI gave explanations about the bitter exchanges in a live TV show, the future plans of Team Melli, and the new form of club competitions in Asia suggested by the AFC.

Referring to the results of Iran in the World Cup, Mehdi Taj, said: “The result is always determined on the field, It’s true that we endured big pressure off the field and the players didn’t have the concentration required for such top-level competition, and maybe time will pass and no one will remember what these issues were. Moreover, when we returned to Iran, this important issue (off-field tension) was not discussed much, and how far the team was from the tranquil atmosphere of concentration required for the competition. However, I accept that we failed and I apologize for that. Although no one has seen our apology in the statement of the federation, my colleagues and I had done this with full humility. I believe that under normal circumstances, our team would have advanced with this quality that we have.”

Although he claimed that “we” failed, it was far from a genuine admission in the interview as he was vigorously defending his federation and the work of Queiroz.

The head of the football federation added: “I know that the main discussion these football days is about the issue of Team Melli’s head coach. I want everyone to allow us to make the best decision in this matter. I assure you that the federation and the board of directors will be the trustees of the people and will make the best decision. Our goal is to compensate for this result in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 and, God willing, we will announce our decision on the appointment of the head coach considering all aspects and the good of the national team.”

What Taj claims is not consistent with facts and track records. In his shift, Taj was responsible for two major failures in appointing the Head Coach of Team Melli, one was the disastrous Marc Wilmots, for which he resigned his post before being questioned, and the other was recently in appointing Carlos Queiroz with three months to go to the World Cup!

How would the fans and critics believe that Taj will get it right the third time? Has he gained some superior knowledge in the last few days or weeks, has he attended seminars or consulted with the elites of world football for us to believe that he and his cronies, will get it right this time?

Selection of the Head coach and the coaching team in National teams is a process. FFIRI lacks that process and even if there is written in some obscure manual of FFIRI, it will not be followed. It is the Head of the FFIRI that decides. Not dissimilar to the system that country is run, it is a one-man show here too. The comical act of the Technical Committee that sacked  Dragan Skocic without having the authority to do so, during Misrshad Majedi’s term as acting head of FFIRI, shows how chaotic this federation and the people associated with it are.

Taj finally mentioned a subject he was trying hard to avoid, and that was the TV Sport show that was talk of the town and social media since Thursday. Taj’s arrogance, sarcasm, dark humor, and condescending attitude toward the two presenters, were not received well by the fans and media.

” First of all, I consider it my duty to once again thank the media for their sincere support during the World Cup. My colleagues and I at the Football Federation are eagerly interested in receiving suggestions and criticisms from media friends. Regarding the topics related to appearing on the sports network program, that night I had general expectations about the manner of the questions and the questions themselves, which I don’t want to reveal, but for example, in the discussion of the former head coach of the national team, Mr. Khiabani, could have said “what happened to the Wilmots case? ‘, which I should have answered, instead, Mr. Khabani suddenly said, “Where is the Wilmots case?” Maybe I shouldn’t have said it was in my pocket, but I should have explained the process that I did. I fully explained that the Wilmots case has resulted in a penalty against the FFIRI in the amount of 9.2 million euros, because of contract violations.

Regarding the issues raised with Rasul Majidi, the young show host of the program whom Taj clearly insulted, he said: “The reality is that this host is like my own son. I am also interested in him. At the beginning of the World Cup, I spoke only with him in this TV show. I was supposed to go to the studio on the last day. I am interested in them and I sincerely apologize.  Taj who insinuated that Majidi was a novice in football due ro his young age, turned around and said “In the football federation, people of his age do important work. I don’t want him to be upset either.

At the end of that interview, Taj made a strong statement saying that the IRIB has no place in making football policy or questioning who is going to be Team Melli’s coach.

Not only Taj has exposed his weak self and his lack of integrity and true management skills, his arrogance and looking down on people are something that the Iranians have experienced for the first time from this man. The industrialist from Esfahan who comes from a rich family loyal to the regime has truly uncovered his mask.

Amir Abedini: Queiroz must go.

Amir Abedini is a former club chairman, former professional footballer, and currently a member of the City Council of Tehran. Abedini’s views on football and politics have always been direct and bold. He has no issues speaking up against corruption, shortfalls, and anything that he deems to be harmful to society. In football, he rarely holds back and is most critical of the football establishment, the nepotism, and the mismanagement of the federation. He does not get much press exposure because his views are deemed to be controversial and since the FFIRI and football, in general, are under direct government control, it will be detrimental to the ruling clan and the political system.

Abedini was recently interviewed by Mehrnews post the Tehran derby that ended in a 2-2 draw. He was critical of the standard of the match, the lack of atmosphere as the match was played behind closed doors in the 100,000-capacity Azadi stadium, and the general lack of quality, and skills by the players of Esteghlal and Persepolis. Abedini then remarked that “after the Excitement of the World Cup and the beautiful games we have witnessed, perhaps our expectation of this derby was far too high.”

Amir Abedini was then asked about team Melli.

The former president of the Football Federation emphasized: “One of the issues that play a role in the quality of the league is the national team, which we do not see in Iran at the moment. Queiroz’s national team means a predetermined package; A certain group of players who, if Queiroz could, would even be taken with him to Colombia! In my opinion, our league is useless and its output is nothing for the national team. This hurts the league, the players, and the clubs in many ways.

Mehdi Taj is losing his bearings.
Abedini also responded to Mehdi Taj’s strange behavior and answers, which caused a lot of controversy on the sports network a few days ago, and added: Taj is losing his integrity due to the intense pressure he is under. One of the admirable merits of Taj was his coolness and his reasonable dealings with the media. Today Taj is tense and nervous and this nervousness plays a role in his behavior and decision-making. The bad failure in the World Cup made him nervous. The expectations of the people and the media are quite high and yet I have not seen any true critique from the media so far.

Team Melli was disappointing in the World Cup.
” We didn’t see anything of worth from Iran in the World Cup,” the former member of the Football Federation stated: “People expected the National Team to show its face and turn up to play football in the World Cup, but we didn’t see such thing. The beating by England hurt badly. In the 2018 World Cup, we defeated Morocco, but what happened to Morocco, who lost to us, four years later? they became among the top four teams in the world and were so good that the people of Asia, Africa, and some of the people of other continents wanted Morrocco to reach the final. . Or, for example, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea, which performed significantly better than Iran.

Unwanted Queiroz was reborn and became alive with Iran.
Abedini added: We defeated the modest team of Wales. A team that really had nothing to say, but we messed up the national team’s camp and created false expectations. The same package of players that I mentioned earlier, threw that gentleman (Queiroz) up and down 6 times against England. Was it the same case for Korean and Japanese coaches? No one wanted Queiroz anywhere, but we brought him back to life. Taj defends something that has been rejected by the people and the media. People are not thrilled anymore;  Why do they insist that Queiroz remains one of the options for the head coach of the national team? Mr. Taj! People attack you because you are defending something that has been rejected by the people. People enjoy and rave about winners and enjoy success. Failures have no place in society.

Queiroz needs to go.
 “I am against the renewal of Queiroz’s contract. His work is not good enough.” The former president of the Football Federation emphasized that he is against the continuation of Queiroz’s work in the national team and said: “I am expressing my opinion. If Mr. Taj wants to stay in football, he must create a platform for consensus, that is, elites and experts who believe that change is necessary for football. It is good that the league is held, but the important thing is how our matches are held and what quality.

Imaginary enemies
“The media is not the enemy of football.” Abedini said, in response to the criticism of Mehdi Taj’s performance,” Taj should be spoken to and the public is entitled to know what is his plan for football and Team Melli. How does he want to continue his work? The General Assembly members and board of directors need to address that. Fand=s and experts should feel relaxed and be assured that football is being properly run (…) . These are football fanatics. The media is not an enemy, and neither are the people. Mehdi Taj must have a master plan with checkpoints to determine whether it is moving in the right direction or not.

Plans for Team Melli
“I think people like Dadkan and Maeli Kohn can provide good advice to Taj in regard to Team Melli.
Asked about, what advice the former Head of FFIRI  has for the Federation Assembly regarding the national team. He said: “Elites must decide. The football federation is for the people and the football elites become the representatives of the people. Make a decision and accept responsibility for it. People like Dadkan or Maeli Kohn or those who have experienced the ups and downs of football should help Taj as a consultant and support him. This would be a good option. It is not just a matter of having foreign or domestic coaches; whoever takes over in Team Melli, should be a coach who is proud of his appointment and capable, skillful, and competent for the post.