The Iranian Football Federation on Friday said that it will complain to football world governing body FIFA over Egypt's decision to cancel a friendly match because of a controversial film.
“If the game gets cancelled then we will lodge a complaint to FIFA,” the head of Iran's Football Federation, Ali Kafashian was quoted as saying by the state run television news website.
“This is a political issue and we will mention to FIFA that the Egyptians are mixing political issues with sports.”
Iranian coach Ali Daei told the ISNA news agency: “Whether we like it or not sport has become intertwined with politics and sport is being used as an instrument in the hands of politicians.”
The Egyptian Football Association said on Friday that the match, scheduled for August 20 in the United Arab Emirates, had been cancelled due to tensions over an Iranian film on the assassination of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
The film, entitled “Assassination of a Pharaoh”, says Sadat was killed for signing the 1978 Camp David Accords that led to a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the first by an Arab country.
“We have decided to cancel the match because of tensions in relations” between Cairo and Tehran following the airing of the documentary on the 1981 assassination, federation president Samir Zaher said.
“We have been in contact with the (Egyptian) foreign ministry during the last 10 days regarding the situation and we finally decided to cancel the match so it did not provoke in one way or another, further tensions,” he said.
Diplomatic ties between Egypt and Iran were severed in 1980, a year after the Islamic revolution, in protest at Egypt's recognition of Israel, its hosting of the deposed shah and its support for Iraq during its 1980-1988 war with Iran.
Relations have recently warmed, with both countries signalling a willingness to restore ties.
This is the second blow to Iran's national squad after English outfit Charlton Athletic also cancelled a planned match against them in Spain.
Iran's national side has been looking for top-quality opposition for friendlies to prepare for the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2010 World Cup.
Iran was drawn into Group B in the final round of World Cup qualifiers along side Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and UAE. Iran will begin its campaign against Saudi Arabia away on September 6.
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