Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi has slammed Canada for canceling a friendly match against Iran, saying it shows the influence of politics on sport in the West.
“The unilateral cancellation of the Iran national football team’s game against Canada is another example of the impact of politics on sport,” Jahromi wrote in a post on his Instagram page on Friday.
He said Canada made the decision despite claiming it does not allow political considerations to influence sporting decisions.
The Iranian official’s comments came after Canada Soccer, the governing body of soccer in Canada, announced on Thursday that it had canceled the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar friendly match against Iran, which was due to be played in Vancouver on June 5 .
More than 40,000 tickets were sold for the game at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.
The Iranian team was due to arrive in Canada next Wednesday as part of the preparations for the FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022.
“Over the past week, host Iran’s unsustainable geopolitical situation has become significantly divisive and the game has been canceled in response,” Canada Soccer said in a statement Thursday.
“While we considered the external factors in selecting the optimal opponent in our initial decision-making process, we will strive to be better in the future.”
Jahromi said that Western sanctions against Russian athletes are another example of prioritizing politics over freedom and human rights.
Such actions on the part of the West come while it refuses to take similar action against other countries accused of launching military actions or even those accused of genocide and other acts of terrorism, the spokesman noted.
Kazem Gharibabadi, the deputy head of Iran’s judiciary and secretary of the Supreme Council for Human Rights, also condemned Canada’s decision to cancel the friendly.
“Canada’s decision to cancel a friendly with Iran is proof that the so-called land of the free cannot keep politics off the field,” he said in a tweet on Friday.
An official with Iran’s sports ministry said Thursday the country’s football association will seek $10 million in damages from the Football Association of Canada for canceling the game.
Sina Kalhor, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Sports and Youth, said the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) will seek compensation from Canada.
“Canada Soccer’s unilateral cancellation of the Iran-Canada game has once again shown that the motto of apolitical athletics is a cover [realization of] Interests of Western countries,” he tweeted, adding that compensation would be sought through legal channels.
On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh accused Canada of politicizing the game and warned that if the game were canceled Canada Soccer would be held responsible for any violations of its agreement with the Football Federation of Iran.
It came after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the friendly against Iran was “not a very good idea” and criticized his country’s soccer boy for plans to host the game.