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Iranian Officials To Ensure World Cup Team Behaves Amid Brazil 'Fever'

By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL

A billboard welcomes Iran’s national soccer team in Guarulhos, Brazil.

While soccer fans around the globe are fixated on who will shine at the World Cup, at least one Iranian lawmaker has other worries on his mind: temptations that could lead the Islamic republic’s players astray in host nation Brazil.

Hossein Azin says he is traveling to Brazil with two of his colleagues to ensure that Iranian players do not engage in immoral and anti-Islamic behavior in the South American country famous for raucous parties and scantily clad beach-goers.

"I'm on a mission, and I'm not traveling to Brazil on my own desire or insistence. But the parliament aims at fighting corruption in football," Azin was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Iranian flag displayed during World Cup opening ceremony
(photo by Ahmad Moeinijam, Islamic Republic News Agency)

When asked by the Tadbirkhabar website what kind of corruption he and his colleagues plan to ward off, Azin said the most important issue was "the observance of cultural and Islamic norms."

"In the past World Cups or international competitions, there have been some incidents related to cultural and Islamic issues. They shouldn't happen again, especially because the games are taking place in a country with a particular culture, such as Brazil," he said.

The lawmaker said he and his colleagues will have to keep a constant watch on the Iranian players and delegation accompanying them so that "God forbid, Islamic norms are not violated."

Azin added that he and his colleagues also have a “precise plan” to monitor Iranian fans who have traveled to Brazil to watch the games, though he did not elaborate on the plan.

He added that he did not know where the budget for his trip came from.

Brazilian father-son fans during World Cup opening ceremony
(photo by Ahmad Moeinijam, Islamic Republic News Agency)

Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted previously as saying that lawmakers do not have the right use public funds to travel to Brazil simply by claiming that they plan to monitor behavior, fight corruption or carry out some other mission.

Larijani reportedly said that lawmakers willing to travel to Brazil should fund their own trips. cited what it called an “informed source” as saying that Larijani made the comments after "a fever" to travel to Brazil had gripped the Iranian parliament.

Copyright (c) 2014 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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