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FIFA offside
Dadekan had his chance and harmed Iranian football


December 6, 2006

The FIFA committee decided to suspend Iran’s Football Federation (IFF) from participating in all international activities on November 22, 2006.  The primary reason given was due to alleged interference in football matters and violation of Article 17 of the FIFA statutes.  The committee approved the following guidelines:

  • Establishing a committee appointed by FIFA and the Asian Football

Confederation (AFC), the composition of which will reflect the role of football’s


  • Drafting of new statutes on the basis of the FIFA standard statutes.
  • Organizing of new elections under the supervision of FIFA and the AFC.

The majority of Iranians in Iran and outside of Iran are passionate about sports, especially Football (which in the US is called soccer where they do not want the US football, which is more like a handball, to be confused with International Football).

In August 2006, FIFA and the AFC gave a deadline of November 15, 2006 to IFF to reinstate its elected president (Mohammad Dadekan), and to comply with the relevant provisions of the FIFA statutes.

An informal polling of over 300 Iranian football fans confirmed that officials were responsible for this ban.  The president of IFF can be dismissed if his performance is not satisfactory, but the rules do not allow any political power (in our case, Sazmane Tarbyat Badani) to get involved.

IFF had to rush to ask for an extension to permit our players to participate in the 2006 Qatar Asian games.  However, this decision was only temporary and IFF had to comply with FIFA rules.

If one had checked the neighboring countries’ football sites, one would have noticed that the majority were happy that Iran was banned.  Even some Iranians were happy. 

Our football has not recovered from poor decisions made during the 80’s to compete internationally.  Looking back at our failures, it is difficult to single out a single person  to blame.  For example, Mr. Dadekhan, whom FIFA requested to be reinstated, is subject to valid criticism.  He has harmed our football by firing the national coach before his contract was completed and by favoring some players over others to play in each game.  After Iran’s poor performance in the 2006 WorldCup, Dadekan wanted to resign, but he changed his mind and complained loudly about being let go.  Later he did resign which was too little and too late.  Dadekan had his chance to correct the problem but apparently chose not to do so.

Because of poor performance, several countries after the 2006 WorldCup replaced their coaches or heads of their football federations.  The process in which the matters were handled in Iran has been questioned.  Most third world countries’ football federations are undemocratic, but they have found ways to cover their inadequacies.  For example, in Iran and other countries, teams receive direct or indirect funding from their governments.  Governments can and have authorized the selection of a manager and/or chief for those clubs, hence controlling the votes for selection of a Football Federations head. 

Listening to IFF officials, one notices that some officials are quite expert at coming up with excuses and trying to justify their decisions.  This approach is no different in other areas of life in Iran.  It has become part of our culture, both inside and outside of Iran.

A similar situation took place in Greece.  However, after receiving FIFA notice, its federation corrected the problem in one week.  If this happened to Greece’s national team, which was the Europe’s champion, it can happen to other countries.  Our goal should be to find long-term solutions rather than quick fixes.

FIFA has its shortcomings.  For example, we have asked its leaders why AFC displays the wrong name for Persian Gulf in its website?  FIFA has not replied to our requests and the AFC still displays the wrong name.  The name “Persian Gulf” was recognized by the United Nations with its 22 Arab countries present, but this name is still ignored by some Arabs and Arab countries.  How FIFA cannot consider this action by AFC a political decision is incomprehensible.

Caring coaches, especially foreign coaches, have complained about the IFF system and the facilities available to them and to our players.  We cannot blame coaches such as Simoes not wanting to renew his contract beyond the December, 2006 deadline.  Foreign coaches have resigned for reasons other than salary or facilities. 

Foreign coaches wonder what is happening in Iran.  Players are taken off the national roster due to lack of support from their clubs, friendly games are cancelled, military service (sarbazi) interfere with players eligibility, and other issues, too many to list here, are serious problems.  During the last year, three foreign coaches have left their clubs and/or the national team.

We are not a poor country dependent on poor facilities or mediocre coaches.  We have third world country status because of our mindset.  The reason football is beautiful to watch when nations play against each other is because it represents each nation, its passion, tenacity, and desire to win.  The IFF is an extension of our people’s thinking; that is why even when IIF members change, our situation remains the same.

Let us support our national team by attending its games (rain or shine).  Sitting in the convenience of our homes or restaurants when the stadiums are empty is a disgrace and leaves no room for complaining.  Not supporting Iranian women in attending our football games is also not acceptable.  Let us create an environment where everyone will feel comfortable to attend and to support the national team.  This goal can be accomplished by active participation and support (especially financial).  Professional teams are functioning because individuals invest in them. Offering verbal or e-mail support alone will not change our mis-managed affairs.  Our cinema, our economy, now our football, need our financial and moral support. Comment

Dr. Mohammad Ala, Professor of Management teaches in Iran, China, and the USA. He is the founder and board member of,, and

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