Late last year, Mansour Pourheidari, a former member of Iran’s national soccer team and a veteran coach, succumbed to cancer. Hours after his death on Nov. 4, former world wrestling champion (1998) and Tehran City Council member Abbas Jadidi was seen posing next to Pourheidari’s body in a picture posted online. The photo unleashed a wave of criticism on Persian-language social media networks, with many questioning whether Jadidi was suited to serve on the Tehran City Council.
The criticism did not stop at Jadidi. As Iran prepares to hold its fifth city and village council elections with the presidential election on May 19, the competency and expertise of the incumbent Tehran City Council, especially the athletes in its ranks, have been challenged by the public and in the media. The incumbent council members include two-time Olympic weightlifting champion Hossein Rezazadeh, two-time Olympic taekwondo gold medalist Hadi Saei as well as world wrestling champion and Olympic gold medalist Alireza Dabir. The four athletes were registered to run again in the upcoming council elections, but the parliamentary committee overseeing the vote disqualified all but Saei.