Footbopolis: football in the Time of Ahmadinejad
It’s true that football is a common denominator among people from all over the world, from every country.
It’s true, it’s not a common place, that the ball rolls over the streets of London just as in the dusty roads of Kabul; that the dictatorships can stop the press, the freedom of speech or expression, but won’t ever be able to prevent four little guys, wearing half-shredded jerseys of western football players , from meeting with each other outside their houses, even between the ruins, to kick a ball and dream a different world. A better one.
Even in Iran they play football.
I’ve contacted Engin Firat, a Turkish-German trainer that worked in a lot of country, as Turkey, Germany, South Korea and, of course, Iran.
I’ve talked with him about football in that country that is so far from us and, in spite of the news about Ahmadinejad, so little known.
How did you arrive to work in Iran?
“I came to Iran for the first time in 2006, after the World Cup in Germany. I watched the Iranian National team at the World Cup and I liked the talents and the potential of their players. Immediately after the World Cup I got the offer from Teheran. We can call it destiny”.
How is the situation of football in Iran?
“There is a big potential of very talented players. Many Iranian played in German Bundesliga. For example Ali Daei, Vahid Hashemian and Ali Karimi played for Bayern Munich. In the same time there are also problems in the Iranian football. The main one is the bad organization that makes a real professional work difficult. Another critical point is the bad education in youth teams: many talents aren’t able to use their potential because they didn’t get a high level education, tactical and technical.
But for me it is a great time, because Iranian people love football, stadiums are full and there are a lot of good players to work with”.
What about the main championship?
“For the next season there will be only 16 teams (before 18) in the Premier League. Because of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, the Federation wants to give the National Team more time for preparation.
The League is dominated in the last years by the most financially powerful teams like Seapahan, Perspolis and Esteghlal”.
Are there foreign players?
“Of course, there is the 3 plus 1 asian foreigner rule. Nearly all times play with 3 foreigner. Mostly from Brazil or Africa”.
Who are the stars?
“Most of the Iranian stars play in the financial very strong leagues like in Qatar or Dubai. But there are still some famous players like Javad Nekounam (many years in La Liga with Osasuna) and Ali Karimi in the Premier League”.
Which are the prespectives of football movement in Iran?
“There are a lot of future plans in Iranian football. And I can see that many things are going for better. But still the positive movement is too slow. Expecially concerning organization and facilities. I think that the Iranian football has to be the powerhouse of Asian football comparing to the potential of the players”.
The last question: which is the relationship between football and islamic regime of Ahmadinedjad?
“Everybody is football fan in Iran, really everybody. But in all this years never a politician have disturbed my work”.
The original article was published in Italian language for “Stromberg non è un comodino” on Tuttocalciatori.net. Here is the link .