Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes Iran should be banned from the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, a Swiss newspaper and online news website said on Friday.
The comments come amid nationwide protests that have gripped Iran for weeks, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody by moral police.
The Swiss channel ‘Blick’ showed a video of the former FIFA president in a talk at the headquarters of his publisher on Thursday.
A reporter asked Blatter: “If you were still president of FIFA today, would you let Iran, which is currently killing young women in the streets, which is sending weapons to Russia to attack Ukraine, play in the World Cup?”
“No,” Blatter replied, adding that he believes current FIFA president Gianni Infantino lacks the courage to take a clear stance on Iran.
“He already has trouble creating a fund together with the Qataris, for all the workers who died in the construction of the infrastructure.
“I think it should be done by someone from FIFA who has the courage. But Infantino doesn’t even have the courage to give an answer to the journalists”.
FIFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on Blatter’s suggestion to ban Iran from the 2022 World Cup and his views on Infantino.
Blatter’s comments come weeks after a law firm sent a letter to FIFA on behalf of a group of former and current Iranian sports figures urging soccer’s governing body to suspend the Football Federation of Iran (FFIRI) and ban him from participating in this year’s World Cup in Qatar. .
The letter says the Iranian football federation’s actions violate FIFA statutes and regulations.
“Iran’s brutality and belligerence towards its own people has reached a tipping point, demanding an unequivocal and firm dissociation from the world of football and sports,” said a press release issued on side of the letter
Other athletes from Iran have joined the protests.
After scoring a goal in the final of the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, Saeed Piramoon mimicked cutting his hair, a move to show support for national protests in the country calling for more freedoms for women, an act that Iranian football authorities have pledged to deal.
Meanwhile, footballer Sardar Azmoun is at risk of missing out on the World Cup after criticizing the government.
“A strand of Iranian women’s hair is worth sacrificing for,” Azmoun wrote in an Instagram story. “Shame on you for killing people so easily. Long live Iranian women.”
Blatter’s comments are not the only criticism the 86-year-old has had of the organization he once led.
Earlier this week he told Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger that “Qatar is a mistake”, adding that “the choice was bad”.
“It’s too small a country. Soccer and the World Cup are too big for that,” Blatter said of Qatar, the first Middle Eastern country to host the tournament.
“Since then, social considerations and human rights have been taken into account,” he added.
The World Cup starts on November 20 and Iran begin their campaign against England on November 21.