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Politics, Revolutionary Guard Corps still interfere in Iranian soccer

While there are some competent officials in Iranian soccer, politics and the Revolutionary Guard still wield too much influence.
Iran's Persepolis players celebrate their goal against UAE?s Al-Sharjah during their AFC Champions League soccer match at Tehran's Azadi stadium, March 10, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN SPORT SOCCER) - RTXCKYC

Ali Daei, who holds the record for most international goals in history, was suddenly dismissed on Sept. 10 as the head coach of Persepolis, the most popular soccer club in Iran, by the Persepolis Sports Club board of directors. The general manager of the club, who was against the decision and refused to announce it, was also fired. These dismissals once again brought up the question of whether, and to what degree, the government and the military organizations are interfering in the management of organized sports in general and soccer in particular.

Persepolis is the most popular Iranian soccer club and ranks in popularity even higher than Esteghlal, another popular Tehran club, and boasts supporters not just in Tehran but all over the country. It is considered the most successful Iranian soccer team in history. However, for the past six years, Persepolis has failed to win the championship of the Iran Pro League. This season, Persepolis had a disappointing start and managed to gain only eight points in its first seven matches.

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