Iran's football federation has formally submitted a request to FIFA, the global governing body for football, urging the suspension of Israel's football federation. The basis for this request is Israel's involvement in the ongoing war in Gaza. In an official announcement posted on the Iranian football federation's website, Iran has called for the "complete suspension" of the Israeli football federation from all activities related to football.
The request goes beyond the realm of sports, seeking "immediate and serious measures" from FIFA and its member associations to prevent the continuation of what Iran refers to as Israeli "crimes." Furthermore, the appeal implores FIFA to facilitate the provision of essential humanitarian aid, including food, drinking water, and medical supplies, to innocent people and civilians affected by the conflict in Gaza.
The war in Gaza commenced on October 7, marked by an unprecedented attack by Hamas militants against Israel. According to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures, the conflict has resulted in approximately 1,160 deaths, predominantly civilians. In response, Israel initiated air strikes and a ground offensive, leading to a reported death toll of at least 27,947 people, primarily women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Iran's position on the matter is notably influenced by its longstanding policy of not recognizing Israel as a state, considering it a sworn enemy. This policy extends to sports, prohibiting any form of contact between Iranian and Israeli athletes. Notably, in August of the previous year, Mostafa Rajaei, a weightlifter, faced a lifetime ban from Iranian authorities after he shook hands with an Israeli competitor at an event in Poland. The Iranian weightlifting federation also dismissed the head of the delegation for that particular competition, Hamid Salehinia.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reinforced this stance in 2021 when he urged Iranian athletes "not to shake hands with a representative of the (Israeli) criminal regime to obtain a medal." Additionally, a coalition of Middle Eastern football associations, including Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, reportedly joined Iran in requesting FIFA to ban Israel over its actions in the conflict with Hamas in Gaza, as reported by Sky News on Thursday.