The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to take over the Arab world for the first time in the region’s history in less than a month when host nation Qatar lock horns with South American outfit Ecuador at Al Khor’s Al-Bayt Stadium on 20 November.
But this installment of the world’s most-beloved global sporting event has not been without controversy from the very beginning on the back of human rights violations after thousands of deaths of migrant workers during the construction of five new stadia and the necessary infrastructure for the tiny nation to host the tournament, and yet another talking point as already come to the fore.
Iran, one of the customary powerhouses in Asian football, has increasingly come under the microscope and there are now reportedly calls for the nation to be stripped of its ability to participate this winter on the back of recent political and social turmoil involving the Islamic Republic.
Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has levied his voice in the direction of football’s governing body, FIFA, to strip Iran of their World Cup place and instead, award it to Ukraine.
In a statement on Shakhtar’s Twitter account, Palkin stated “While the Iranian leadership will have fun watching their national team play at the #WorldCup, Ukrainians will be killed by Iranian drones and Iranian missiles. Almost 250 such drones have already attacked peaceful cities of #Ukraine,”
This comes, no doubt, in the wake of the ongoing unjust invasion of the country by Russia at the behest of President Vladimir Putin, which Iran is a known supporter of and has now actively begun sending weapon systems to the Russian armed forces for use in the conflict according to The British Ministry of Defence.
“Each of them was produced, delivered by the Iranian authorities, Iranian instructors, and the military directly trained and managed the launches of drones that destroyed homes, museums, universities, offices, sports grounds and playgrounds, and most importantly, killed Ukrainians.”
“Including children. Children who also dreamed of seeing their national team at the #WorldCup. “#Shakhtar Football Club calls on #FIFA and the entire international community to immediately ban Iran’s national team from playing at the World Cup for the country’s direct participation in terrorist attacks on Ukrainians.”
“This will be a fair decision that should draw the attention of the whole world to a regime that kills its best people and helps kill Ukrainians.”
“The vacant place should be taken by the national team of #Ukraine, which proved that it is worthy of participation in the Mundial. With unequal conditions with other national teams during the playoffs, they played with their heart.”
“This decision is historically and sportingly justified. I urge everyone to join the pressure on the football bureaucracy. It is enough to repeat the mistakes of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, hiding behind the empty thesis about the apoliticality of sports.”
“Facilitating the participation of terrorists in the World Cup is politics. It’s time to put an end to such a policy. #Ukraine #StandWithUkraine #FootballStandsTogether.”
Moreover, additional pressure has been placed on FIFA by the human rights group Open Stadiums to ban Iran from tournament play due to their treatment of women, which has been highlighted once more by the ass protests both in Iran and abroad of Iranian populations around the world in the wake of the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.
Whether or not FIFA will take action remains to be seen, but if football is truly the people’s game, then sanctions on Iran should hardly be viewed as out of the realm of possibility.