The brouhaha this raised in the Iranian media, which is, of course, loyal to the Khamenei regime, was a spectacle.
Islamic antisemitism is brazen and institutionalized in Iran, as well as in other Sharia-adherent countries. If this hatred were expressed against any other group, a global outcry would ensue, with demands for an apology and a change of behavior. Antisemitism is the only kind of bigotry that is openly expressed in and even tolerated in the realms of international sports. Meanwhile, Islamic lobbies routinely scream “Islamophobia” even when no bigotry at all is present; mere offense to Islamic sensibilities is enough.
“Iranian soccer player sparks outrage playing in match with Israeli coach,” by Tzvi Joffre, Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2021:
Iranian soccer player Mehdi Mahdavikia sparked controversy in Iranian media after he played in a showcase match with an Israeli coach at the FIFA Arab Cup.
The showcase match at the FIFA Arab Cup starred former soccer players from Arab countries and around the world. The team of world legends was coached by Israeli Avram Grant. Three Algerian soccer players withdrew from the match and a number of Arab players erased the Israeli flags from their shirts in protest against Grant’s involvement.
Iran has a general policy of not allowing athletes to compete against Israeli competitors. The policy has sparked pressure by Israel and its supporters to ban Iran from competing in a variety of sports unless it allows its athletes to play against Israeli athletes.
The Kayhan newspaper, associated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, attacked the soccer player for playing in a match “unrelated to Iran, dressed in the flag of the Zionist regime and against a team coached by a Zionist.” The newspaper expressed outrage that Mahdavikia had not issued a statement to “openly express his hatred” of Israel and demanded that he do so.
The Fars News Agency also expressed outrage that Mahdavikia had not apologize for taking part in the match. The news agency added that the soccer player tried to make the issue seem “trivial.” The article questioned why the Sports Ministry had remained silent on the issue.
Amid the controversy, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, an Iranian soccer player who plays on the country’s national team, expressed support for Mahdavikia by posting a photo of the two together in his Instagram story, according to ILNA.
Former Iranian Football Federation’s moral charter secretary Hojatoleslam Alireza Alipour also expressed support for the soccer player, saying that Mahdavikia did not know in advance that an Israeli coach would be involved. Alipour expressed outrage that some members of the Iranian parliament had attacked the soccer player without actually looking into the issue.
Alipour stated that he personally followed up on the issue and found that claims that Iraqi soccer player Younis Mahmoud had said that Mahdavikia did not erase the flag were false and that Mahmoud had confirmed that the Iranian soccer player had also erased the Israeli flag from his uniform….