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Iranian Soccer Players Banned After Post-Election Protest

By VOA News

Authorities in Iran have banned four members of the country's national football (soccer) team for wearing green wristbands in a show of solidarity with anti-government demonstrators.

Iran's national soccer team players during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Asia group 2 qualifying soccer match against South Korea at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul, S. Korea

The display took place during a World Cup qualifying match last week in South Korea.

A pro-government Iranian newspaper says the players have been "retired" from the team.

Green was the campaign color of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and has become a symbol for the opposition in post-election demonstrations.

The banned players include Iran's star player Ali Karimi, as well as Mehdi Mahdavikia, Hosein Ka'abi and Vahid Hashemian.

At least six players wore green during the first half of the match. The players were told to remove the attire during half-time, though some ignored the warning. It is not clear who gave the instructions, but the sport's governing body, FIFA, prohibits players from displaying political slogans or statements.

The match between South Korea and Iran ended in a 1-1 draw - a result that ended Iran's chances at qualifying for next year's World Cup.

... Payvand News - 06/25/09 ... --

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