Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised to
personally intervene and eliminate the factors holding back the country's
"I must intervene personally to push aside these destructive issues," the president said in a Sunday interview with Iran's Sports Radio, IRNA reported.
Pointing to the disappointing results of Iran's national football team in the World Cup qualifiers, the incumbent president said, "Unfortunately this sport has been afflicted with some very bad issues, the elimination of which will take fundamental planning."
After a dismal series of matches, Iran has almost no chance to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Following its latest match against North Korea, which ended in a 0-0 draw, Iran sits in fourth place in its group with 7 points in six matches. Top-place South Korea has already qualified and the second-place North Korea is almost there, with 11 points.
President Ahmadinejad, who is presently contesting in a tight fight for a second term in office, was once a keen amateur football player, and has followed the national team's ebbs and flows closely.
He took time off from his political campaigning to explain his plans to revive the appeal of sports in Iran, especially football, which is hugely popular.
He even placed the presidential jet at the disposal of the national team recently to fly them immediately back from Pyongyang to Tehran on Saturday, so that the players could find sufficient time to prepare for their next match against last-placed UAE on June 10.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard in a rare scene holding hands. Photo/GhalamNews.ir
Mousavi, who is an artist apart from being a politician, named 14 other promising prospects for the country's art community.
The candidate vowed less government interference in cultural matters, and more infrastructural investment in a bid to help younger artists flourish.
A staunch critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in almost every field, Mousavi also said that if elected to the top executive post he would give the art community greater say in their affairs, appoint trusted managers, and support their unions.
Better insurance, job security and non-governmental support funds for production, distribution and export of art works, were also on his to-do list.
Mousavi also vowed legal reform to ensure "freedom of speech", "an end to censorship regulations", and "greater cultural diversity".
Finally, the candidate said that he would build new and world-class theatres, libraries, art galleries, and museums across the country.
In recent comments, rival Reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi also made similar promises about books and publications.
Mousavi, the country's last prime minister (1981-1989), Karroubi, the two-time parliament (Majlis) speaker (1989-1992 and 2000-2004), and Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei will challenge incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on June 12.
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