Iran prepare to face Brazil's Robinho, Dani Alves and Alex for the first time

October 6, 2010

The announcement hit news outlets like a bombshell: on October 7, 2010, in front of the eyes of 100 million potential viewers in 180 countries, the Iranian and Brazilian national football teams would face each other for the first time in their history.

Millions of Brazil fans around the world, along with 70 million Iranian football fans, had to pinch themselves twice to believe this match was confirmed and would kick-off in a matter of days.
Initially many Iranian fans took the announcement with a grain of salt. After all, promising a high profile friendly opponent and announcing the cancelation of the game has long been a ritual of the Iran Football Federation.
This time though, against all odds the match was organized quickly and to the extent that some cynics argued a close political relationship between two countries’ governments had lead to prompt organization of this football feast.
Iranian football fans are in ecstatic mood ahead of this game, eager to watch their veteran players go head-to-head with the likes of Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Robinho, Alex Costa and Alexandro Pato.
But they are also bitterly disappointed at being deprived of watching this game on home soil; it is set to take place not in Tehran but in near-by Abu Dhabi.
It is rather a right than a dream for the football-crazy Iranians to host this high profile match against the five-time World Cup winners at the 100,000-seat Azadi stadium.
A sold-out match in Azadi would be out of the question. Many blame the Iran Football Federation’s marketing incompetency in trying to offset the costs associated with this match to host the lucrative Brazilians.
But in the current circumstances, the sanction-crippled country’s football federation faces additional problems on top of signing deals with international sponsors and advertising agencies.
The head of Iran's football federation put it simply: “We could not afford to pay the $3 million fee to the Brazil team’s exclusive sponsor.”
According to reports, initial negotiations were made with several European countries to host this high caliber match but none complied and the UAE was selected as the host country.
There are also indications that the cost of this event is shared between the Brazil team’s Switzerland-based sports marketing agency ISE/Kentaro, for flights and hotels, Brazil world tour’s sponsors and the international television distributer. The UAE FA meahwile is not absorbing any cost at all to host the game, according to Philippe Huber, the chief executive of ISE/Kentaro.
There is also as much fame and glamour surrounding this game as financial gain for the sponsors. Huber is quoted saying, “We had a few other teams available, but Iran were by far the strongest opponent.
""They are a true power in international football and will be popular opposition in Abu Dhabi.”
Afshin Ghotbi’s side have enjoyed a winning streak against East and West Asian opponents in recent months and now face a stern test of their squad ahead of the all-important Asian Cup in January.
Brazil's newly appointed manager Mano Menezes will look to test his young guns within what is otherwise a largely Europe-based squad.
So the pitch is laid, dressing rooms and VIP rooms prepared and the cameras ready to capture this historic friendly match between the glorious Selecao and an Asian powerhouse. No matter the result, it should be a joy to watch. (Source: