Ex-FIFA boss Sepp Blatter believes Iran should be banned from Qatar World Cup
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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes that Iran should be banned from the upcoming World Cup as a result of nationwide protests over human rights issues.
Blatter’s comments come after weeks of unrest in the Islamic Republic sparked by the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody.
She was arrested for allegedly flouting Iran’s strict dress code imposed on women.
It has sparked weeks of protests against the country’s strict rules and has led to a group of former and current Iranian sports figures calling for FIFA to exclude the country from the tournament.
And Blatter agrees with them.
He has accused football’s governing body of lacking the courage to disqualify the country from football’s biggest tournament.
Swiss outlet Blick revealed a video of the 86-year-old speaking at the publisher’s headquarters last week.
He was asked by a reporter: “If you were still FIFA president today would you let Iran -- which is currently killing young women in the streets, which is sending weapons to Russia to attack Ukraine -- play in the World Cup?"
He responded: “No.”
He says he believes he would’ve demanded harsh penalties on the nation and removed them from the World Cup.
He continued: "He's (current FIFA president Gianni Infantino) already having trouble creating a fund together with the Qataris - for all the workers who died in the construction of the infrastructure.
"I think it should be done by someone from FIFA who has courage. But Infantino doesn't even have the courage to give journalists an answer."
Blatter’s comments come after a law firm sent a letter to FIFA on behalf of a group of former and current Iranian sports figures.
A press release issued alongside the letter, via Iran International English, read: “Iran’s brutality and belligerence towards its own people has reached a tipping point, demanding an unequivocal and firm disassociation from the footballing and sports world.
“FIFA’s historical abstinence from political quagmires has often only been tolerated when those situations do not metastasize into the footballing sphere … Football, which should be a safe place for everyone, is not a safe space for women or even men.
“Women have been consistently denied access to stadia across the country and systematically excluded from the football ecosystem in Iran, which sharply contrasts with FIFA’s values and statutes.”
Last week Blatter admitted that awarding the FIFA World Cup to Qatar was a ‘mistake’.
SPORTbible reached out to FIFA for comment.