By Farrokh Hesabi

Choosing Bahrain as Group C host a political decision: expert

March 15, 2021 - 19:1

TEHRAN - Choosing Bahrain as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Group C is a political rather than a sporting decision made by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Iranian football legal expert, Houshang Nasirzadeh says.

The former head of the Legal Committee of the Iran Football Federation believes that politic has a big influence in choosing which country to host important tournaments.

The Iranians were informed by the AFC last week that the Persian Gulf state will host the remaining matches in Group C of the second round of the competition, which also features Iraq, Cambodia, and Hong Kong.

“Not giving the privilege of hosting the games to Iran, is a matter beyond the principles of sports. It falls within the frameworks of international political behavior against the country. The main reason is that Bahrain and some other Persian Gulf countries are the main financial supporters of the AFC and they are a big part in the process of the decision-making by the confederation,” Nasirzadeh said.

“The sports authorities of the Persian Gulf countries are mainly of politicians and they make political decisions as well. Bahrain had secured the rights to host the final eight matches in Group C and it is an act of utter injustice. In making such a decision, the AFC’s directors or the members of the Executive Committee implement their political beliefs,” he added.

Iran along with other seeded teams had played three away games and one home game against the lowest-seeded team in their group. Much to the horror of the Iranian fans, AFC handed over the hosting rights to their rivals, Bahrain, under the pretext of sanctions and the fact that AFC and their commercial partners would not be able to operate in Iran.

“It should be noted that Sheikh Salman, president of the AFC, is a member of the House of Khalifa, the royal family of Bahrain, a country that is not in line with the Islamic Republic of Iran in terms of political issues, although he may have friendships with some people in the Iranian football, including former officials of the federation. It is difficult to prove that giving the hosting to Bahrain is purely a political decision and we should bring the issue to the FIFA’s Ethical Committee to prevent such incidents in the future,” he concluded.

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