Ukraine steps up bid to get Iran kicked out of World Cup
Ukrainian football officials have announced they will formally petition FIFA to consider expelling Iran from the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. A statement on Monday accused Tehran of “systemic human rights abuses” and aiding “Russian military aggression against Ukraine.”
The decision was announced on the Ukrainian Association of Football’s (UAF) website, following a meeting of its executive committee. Last week, the CEO of one of Ukraine’s biggest clubs, Shakhtar Dontesk, made a similar proposal.
“Taking into account media information about systematic human rights violations in Iran, which may violate the principles and norms of the FIFA Statutes, taking into account the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 regarding the imposition of sanctions on Iran and the possible involvement of Iran in the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, [it was decided] to make a request to FIFA to consider excluding the Iranian national team from the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” the UAF statement read.
Kiev and its Western allies have accused Iran of supplying missiles and drones to Russia for its ongoing military operation against Ukraine – allegations denied by Tehran and Moscow.
Iran will be among the 32 nations to compete at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which runs from November 20 to December 18.
The Iranian team have been drawn in Group B of the tournament, alongside England, Wales and the USA. They begin their campaign against England on November 21.
Last week, Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergey Palkin claimed Iran should be kicked out of the World Cup and replaced by Ukraine, which failed to qualify after losing a playoff final against Wales in June.
“While the Iranian leadership will have fun watching their national team play at the World Cup, Ukrainians will be killed by Iranian drones and Iranian missiles,” Palkin wrote on social media.
Palkin claimed that Ukraine had “proved that it is worthy of participation” in Qatar, arguing that replacing Iran would be “historically and sportingly justified.”
In the same statement on Monday, the UAF said it would appeal to FIFA and UEFA to exclude the membership of the Russian Football Union (RFU) from the two organizations, after plans were discussed for the integration of teams in four new Russian regions, which were formerly part of Ukraine, to join the Russian football system.