European football teams cancel friendlies with Iran

July 13th, 2008 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Tehran, July 13 (DPA) Three European football teams have cancelled their friendly games against Iran’s national team amidst the international row over country’s nuclear programme and controversial missile tests, Iranian media reported Sunday. According to the ISNA press agency, Spanish teams Marbella and Malaga cited technical reasons for the cancellation, while the English Premier League club Charlton Athletic directly told the Iranian side that the cancellation was ordered by the British government.

Iran has not only defied once again the demand by world powers to suspend uranium enrichment but also test-fired earlier this week several missiles, including a long-range missile which some Iranian officials said would target Israel if the country’s nuclear sites were attacked.

The Iranian Football Federation plans to sue Charlton Athletics at the FIFA over what the federation called a one-sided annulment of the contract.

Iran’s national team and its coach Ali Daei have since Thursday held a training camp in Marbella and planned to play several games as preparation for the upcoming World Cup qualification games.

The political controversies in the recent years between Iran and the West, including the nuclear dispute and tirades by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against arch-foe Israel, have also caused grave problems for the national team with regards to test games.

Since the beginning of 2006, most of the European teams - and reportedly also their governments - prefer not to play against Iran.

The next stop of Ali Daei’s team is the Czech Republic where Iran is to play two test games against Sparta and Bohemians Prague.

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