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World Cup Politics: 'The Curse Of The Iranian People Afflicted Brazil'

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

The elimination of Brazil from the World Cup was met with expressions of joy and sarcasm by some members of Iran's opposition movement. They used the occasion to poke fun at Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, who had 
said earlier this week that the United States, France, and England were eliminated from the World Cup for imposing sanctions on Iran over its sensitive nuclear activities.

"In this World Cup, you see a meaningful correlation between politics and diplomacy and football," Mottaki was quoted as saying by "Tehran Emrouz" newspaper. 

"Those who played a key role in new sanctions against Iran, such as America, England, and France, were eliminated in the early stages," he said. "And some countries that were somehow involved in sanctions did not get into higher rounds."

In reaction to Motaki's comments, blogger "kelk" wrote:
Since the U.S. and England were eliminated because of their vote in support of sanctions, then Brazil, the most glorious of the football teams, was eliminated because of its vote against the sanctions, right!
A member of the opposition Green Movement addressed Iranian officials, including Mottaki, on his Facebook page and wrote:
Brazil was faced with divine punishment because of its support for you guys.

Another said "the curse of the Iranian people people afflicted Brazil."

A journalist supporter of the opposition movement had a similar message on his Facebook page:

Even support for Iran's nuclear program did not help Brazil.

Blogger "Kouroshshahanshah" asked Mottaki:

Tell me, Manuch, why did Brazil lose? They voted against [the sanctions]. Lula voted against them...Take the members of the Brazil football team to Kahrizak [a detention center where at least three postelection detainees died as the result of torture] so that they are taught a lesson.

Blogger Hamid Reza says the Iranian government has declared three days of public mourning after the elimination from the World Cup of its brother country Brazil, who didn't support sanctions. 

Iranians love football, and even though the Iranian football team did not qualify for the World Cup, many have been watching the matches in South Africa with great enthusiasm. 

One young Iranian woman and fervent football lover in Tehran told RFE/RL that watching the games makes her forget some of the frustrations caused by last year's disputed presidential vote and its bloody aftermath. She said she cheered for Holland and was happy that Brazil had been eliminated.

"Brazil has been very supportive of Ahmadinejad," she said. "We are against whoever supports him."
Another Iranian football fan -- a supporter of Brazil -- said he believes sport and politics shouldn't be mixed.

Copyright (c) 2010 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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