Mon, 27 May 2019

The Asian Football Confederation has warned Iran it could face sanctions ahead of January's Asian Cup over government interference with the nation's soccer association.

The warning on November 13 follows the Iranian parliament's passage of a law barring the employment of retirees in government, state, or public institutions which use state funds or facilities.

Local media reported that the law applied to the current president of the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI), Mahdi Taj, and a number of other board members, though FFIRI contends it is a non-governmental organization.

The AFC said that it is 'closely monitoring the current issues.'

'All member associations must fulfil their duties without any third party interference either from the government or the parliament,' it said.

'The AFC has a zero tolerance policy towards any third party interference in their member associations and hopes that, with less than two months to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the FFIRI can maintain its independence and avoid any sanctions,' it said.

Iran is current ranked the best Asian team at No. 30 by soccer's world governing body FIFA. It is scheduled to play its opening game on January 7 against Yemen in Abu Dhabi. Its group includes Iraq and Vietnam.

FIFA suspended Iran in November 2006 from participation in international soccer on the grounds of governmental interference in the national soccer association. The ban was lifted after less than a month.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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