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Iran Ends FIFA Dispute

  • Reuters, Wednesday, January 9, 2008 3 PM
The Iranian soccer federation (FFI) ended a longstanding dispute with world governing body FIFA after a pro-government candidate withdrew his name from the organization's presidential election. FIFA refused to let politicians working for the Iranian government's Physical Education Organization run for positions within FFI. FIFA threatened banning Iran from international competition if it refused to comply.

Both FIFA and the Asian Football Federation said they would not recognize the outcome of the Iranian soccer federation's presidential election until Mohammad Aliabadi, the country's vice president, and Shahrokh Shahnazi, another pro-government candidate, withdrew their names from the ballot box. Aliabadi consented to withdraw last month, while Shahnazi finally withdrew his name Tuesday night, leaving Ali Kafashian the sole candidate and winner of the FFI presidency.  

Kafashian's first task will be to appoint a new national team coach. Iran's first World Cup qualification game will be on Feb. 6 against Syria in Damascus. "The FFI transitional committee has proposed [Portuguese Artur] Jorge as new coach," Kafashian said, "but nothing is clear yet as the issue should first be evaluated by an experts team."

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