On the aftermath of Iran's failure to qualify for soccer matches in the 2004 Olympics, Nader Jahanfard raises questions about appointing Mohammad Mayelikohan to lead Iran's U-23 Omid side in the first place. Jahanfard in San Jose, California, is a correspondent for Irankicks.com where this piece originally appeared.
Iranians are the most patient people on planet earth. After all we have been through so much in our history, we have proven time and again that when it comes to tolerance we are a unique nation. I am not here to teach anyone a history lesson, yet I could not ignore the fact that even for a great nation like ours this asset (tolerance) can only go so far. When push comes to shove we can stand up and show our true heroic selves and take care of the business.
I am not here to talk politics either, because I am not a politician or have any remote interest on becoming one. However today's sport is the direct reflection of a society and one cannot ignore the fact that to a certain degree sports and politics go hand in hand, as a result one can overcome or destroy the other so easily.
Quite often the real loser in this unfair game is sport. After all you cannot let the tiny opponent beat you in a dirty game of politics. Now you may ask me why I brought this up? I would like to talk to you about our Football. This may not be much of an argument to some but since Football in our country is far ahead of any other sports including wrestling and it's about the only major event that keeps the youth of this great country of ours busy and entertained, it naturally gets more attention than any other major event in Iran.
The times may have changed but the attitudes and the passion for this game has not changed through the years, we still scream, shout, laugh and cry the same way we did 30 years ago.
Alright, I may be exaggerating a bit. I know our fans have changed a bit too but more or less we are in the same boat as we were years ago, because of this passion, Iran and Iranians have gained so much fame and glory through the years all over the world. One thinks that if our aim is to show the people of the world that we exist, we can be the best and we are a worthy opponent on any given day, they should be paying more attention to this game and benefit from it!
Remember France 98? How could we forget our triumphant victory over USA? How much fame and recognition did we gain from that single game in front of billions of viewers? Did we not hold our heads up for years because of it, did it not change the view of many around the world about Iranians in general?
Show me one single event that can have such an amazing powerful impact over a nation! Do you remember the Iranian kids wearing that jersey like there was no tomorrow? Some of these kids had never seen the motherland before that game! Don't you get goose bumps thinking about Iran vs. Australia ? Did it not put Iran and Iranian sport on the map again? Basically what I am asking you is; did we or did we not see the great effect of sport and Football to be specific in our society? I have no doubt that your answer is: YES !
So why is it that after that infamous game in Lyon against USA, we forgot how good it is to feel like a proud Iranian again and what we can lose by not paying enough attention to it? Where did we go wrong? Remember the Bahrain game? I know, I know, here we go again with that game and all the controversies surrounding that game. But do you remember? How much it hurt us? Aren't we still bitter by the images of Bahrainis waving the Saudi flag around the stadium just to show solidarity with the other team? What did we do? What lessons did we learn?
It seems to me that people in charge of our sports have not learned anything from that humiliating experience. Aren't we supposed to learn from the bad experiences and make corrections for our future moves? How about our unexpected loss to minors Qatar a few years earlier? Was that not humiliating enough? Did we not almost miss the opportunity to be in world Cup 98? Who was the main cause of that costly mistake?
Why did we appoint the same coach who got it wrong in WC98 Qualifiers to lead our OMID team in Olympics 2004 qualifiers? What record has this coach got with his own club in the Iranian Premier League this season that brought you to the conclusion that he was the man to take us to the Olympics after more than two decades? Isn't Olympics important enough to you guys?
We are talking connections here. We are focusing on planning and organization for the good of Iran and its sports. Why was a person with a horrible record all around appointed to lead the OMID team? I wish I could get inside your minds and discover why?
Look at the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region. Do you see how much they have advanced? How many stadiums they have built and how much they invest into their sports just to publicize their names despite the limited amount of talent they have? Why do we have to be in the state of array all the time?
Why should we lose our young talents to these tiny countries because we cannot satisfy the basic needs of our players in their homeland? Do you guys not realize what we are missing here? It's not about you, it's not about me, It's about the future of our youth and it's about Iran.
When was the last time we lost to any team at Azadi stadium the way we lost to South Korea on March 17th? We had two shots on our opponent's goal, two corners in the whole game. Tell me why 300 Korean fans out voiced us on our own turf? Please find the reason behind the silence of our fans?
Let me tell you, they are tired of it all. Iranian fans in Iran are much smarter than people like me who live abroad. They know the reality behind your funny moves. Once Mr. Kohan was appointed as the head coach of the OMID team they read right through your mind. So why should they waste their breath when they already know what the outcome will be.
People are tired of mismanagement in our Football, they are tired of being humiliated, they are tired of being taken advantage of, they are tired of seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. Last Saturday we lost to China. It was not a close match either, we lost by a wide margin and completely lost the opportunity to reach the Olympics, again.
Now you have sacked Mr.Kohan? Let me tell you; It's too late, the damage is done . We have completely lost fate in this federation, it will take a lot to have the fans voice back at Azadi stadium again.
Mr. Dadkan, the question is how are you going to turn this around? Even a better question is, are you willing to turn things around? Once more, it's not about you, it's not about me, it's about a nation. ………………..