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Looking for "They"
"They" are all powerful

By Javid Vahid
May 15, 2001
The Iranian

I was in Iran a couple of years ago with a professional crew preparing a report on the state of football in our country. Being a football junky, this was one of my most memorable trips ever. The aim was to find football legends, talk to them, find out how they live, and show them our appreciation for their hard work.

These are players still involved with football and in the spot light, like Ali Parvin, Nasser Hejazi and Hamid Derakhshan. And there are some walking the streets of Tehran whom you would not even recognize, but they are legends in their own right. Players like, Homayoon Behzadi, Jafar Kashani, and Hamid Shirzadegan.

We wanted to paint a picture of Iranian football from its earliest days up to today. To accomplish this in three weeks was a task for Hazrat Fil, especially considering that this was my first trip to Iran in 23 years. And I don't have to explain what relatives do to visitors with their hospitality.

I hope my work and busy life schedule would allow me to write on a consistent basis about my experiences in Iran. I have so much to say that I could fill this column day after day for a year.

I would write about spending a day with the Hejazis at their home; meeting Atila, Atoosa and Mrs Hejazi, finding how classy and yet down to earth this family is. Like talking one-on-one with Parvin at the Kargaran Stadium where Persepolis practices. Or spending every minute with Esteghlal players during practice before and after a league game.

Be on the look for these stories. But in my first report, I want to talk about the illusive "They".

"They" apparently have a hand in everything. You cannot do anything without their permission. When I was talking to Ali Karimi, I asked him about his transfer to Europe. He said, "If 'They' let me I'll go!". He was serving his one-year ban for hitting the referee in a friendly game in Vietnam. "What made you do that?" I asked. "We were under pressure in Vietnam and 'They' were not doing a good job and so I got upset and I did that," he said.

I was watching a league game at Azadi stadium with a number of officials from the Iranian Football Federation, including the person responsible for everything at the stadium -- from crowd control, to the facilities and the quality of the field. I had had the pleasure of going on the field, the same field that has brought us so much glory -- and sorrow. I was disgusted by the state of the grass. "Why can't we fix this field?" I asked. "I need at least six months to fix the field. If 'They' let me I am ready to do it right now," was his reply.

I asked Ali Parvin, "Why doesn't Persepolis, whch is one of the best teams in Iran and possibly Asia, have a private field and facilities?" He said, "This is a good question. We used to have a field but then 'They' sold it. You have a very good question, one that I don't have an answer for. 'They' know better."

I was in the locker room before the game between Esteghlal and Bank Melli. The Esteghlal players went into the huddle, kind of like what American football players do before they snap the ball. Javad Zarincheh, the team captain, was talking to team members, giving them words of encouragement. This was about a week after Mansour Pour-Haydari had released the list of 25 players who have been invited to the national team. So one of the things Zarincheh said was, "Don't worry. If 'They' have not picked you for the national team, just be yourself show what you can do on the field and your time will come!"

At Homayoon Behzadi's home, I asked him about the Shahin Club history. He said, "When 'They' unjustly closed the Shahin Club, we (meaning Kalani, Behzadi, Kashani and others) went to the Paykan Club."

I did a lot of research about "They". "They" are a lot more powerful than what you and I think. "They" have a hand in the economy, killings, closure of the newspapers, even in the offices and factories.

I was asking my cousin, "You work as an engineer in this factory. But you have two cars driving for hire at night. Why?" He said, "If 'They' do a better job running the country and if 'They' create a balanced economy, then I don't have to deal with rising prices and then I don't have to work as hard to make ends meet."

I accomplished a lot in my trip but, unfortunately, I was never able to meet "They". I hope in my next trips I will be able to meet them. I have a lot to ask. I want to know why are "They" so mean. What pleasure do "They" get by making our lives so difficult?

Don't you think if "They" change their attitute, we would be the best in everything? Our football fields would look like makhmal; our players would all kick perfect passes every time they touch the ball; Iran would win every game and our country would be the "gole sar-sabad" of all countries in the world.

If "They" let me, I'll find them and maybe put some sense into their head.

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