By Mohammad Ala
Our football has been in decline in the past thirty years, especially in the past year both at club levels and at the national level. There are a few good players, but they cannot make a huge difference. Clubs should be privatized and managed professionally.
Iran's National Soccer Team (March 2009)
Iranian players formerly had a physical advantage over other Asian players but this advantage no longer exists. Many Asian players are stronger and more physically fit in comparison to our players. At the same time, our individual player's talent is not as good as before and while the Asian players have improved in this area as well.
Iranian clubs do not have good facilities, and the Azadi stadium lacks many amenities, such as good washrooms.
Although clubs have hired decent foreign coaches, the media, fans, and sporting administrators have interfered with these coaches. Sometimes people who have little knowledge about modern football are in charge of the Iranian football organizations.
It is important for us to require that our coaches have obtained international certifications and have had coaching experience in foreign countries. Many coaches are not improving their skills and professional expertise, and if they do not obtain international experience and certification, should not be permitted to coach or to officiate.
The administrative and organizational structure of our football organizations must be changed. There are too many administrators who travel with the teams instead of the players. Funds are allocated inefficiently and in a wasteful manner, and intermediaries make huge commissions. There is an alarmingly lack of transparency.
Despite our weaknesses, there are hopes. The biggest reason for optimism is the passion that our people have for football. Given the size of our population, Iran can produce many good players. The decision making process must be a group effort rather than the decision of those for whom no oversight is provided and who are taking advantage of the flaws in our present system.
We should demand that the current conflict of interest possibilities that exist in a variety of situations should be prohibited. For example, a coach must not be permitted to promote his own company's products or an administrator must not be permitted to promote his own agenda. Administrators must not be permitted to run the football federation while holding other jobs; in the past such administrators have devoted only a small percentage of their time to this critical responsibility.
Clubs and national team have failed to produce consistent results. If interference from incompetent administrators does not stop, we can only expect a future of further defeat and disappointment with football. But, if we act promptly and responsibly, we can again be proud of our record in football.
About the author: Dr. Mohammad Ala is professor of business management. He is passionate about sports and protecting the environment. Dr. Ala is board member of several organizations such as Persian Gulf (www.persiangulfonline.org) and Iran Heritage (www.iran-heritage.org).
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