Tue, Jun 27, 2006 - Page 19 News List

World Cup: Ahmadinejad's deputy blamed for World Cup failure

MEDDLING MINISTER The controversial Iranian president's deputy has been singled out as the reason Iran's `best ever team' failed to progress

DPA , TEHRAN

Iran's failure to qualify for the second round of the World Cup has been blamed on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's deputy, Mohammad Aliabadi, the news agency ISNA reported on Sunday.

Vice President Aliabadi, who is also head of the country's sports organization, was blamed by the sports faction of the parliament for what many Iranians term as a humiliation for their country.

Devotion not enough

"Every job needs the relevant qualification and heading a sports organization needs expertise and technical know-how. Just being a devout Muslim does not solve anything," Member of Parliament Hossein Eslami told ISNA.

"How can somebody like Aliabadi who has not even the slightest background in sports, never kicked a ball and knows nothing about football, let alone the [national team] players' names run such an organization," he said.

Aliabadi is accused of interfering in the team's affairs in Germany and taking the easy option by firing the Iranian Football Federation president Mohammad Dadkan, making him the main scapegoat for their efforts in taking just one point from their three group games.

Not qualified

Eslami said if there was no qualified person in charge, then Iran would suffer the same fate again at the next World Cup. The parliament is therefore expected to deal with the sports officials in a closed-door session and will also call on Ahmadinejad to get involved.

The Iranian team, widely regarded as the best in the country's history, finished bottom of Group D with only one point from a 1-1 draw against Angola.

The aftermath of the World Cup flop once again raised the question as to what extent the sports organization, which is part of the government, should interfere in sports affairs in general and soccer in particular.

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