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Iran Ban Two Players After Playing Israelis
Iran has banned two players from representing the national team after facing an Israeli club in the Europa League.
Iran captain Masoud Shojaei and midfielder Ehsan Haji Safi played for Greece's Panionios against Israeli outfit Maccabi Tel Aviv last week. Even though they sat out the first leg of the Europa League qualifier in Israel, they featured in the 1-0 loss at home to Tel Aviv on August 3, which is still a violation of Iran's government policy. Ali Kafashian, the Iran football federation vice president, told the Mizan Online website that the two men should not have played "even if their contracts would have been terminated".
Iran does not recognise Israel as a country and has barred all their athletes from playing against any Israeli teams. "It is certain that Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Haji Safi will never be invited to join the national football team because they violated the red line," Iran deputy sports minister Mohammad Reza Davarzani said on state television, via The New York Times. "They have a financial contract with a club to be paid and play for that team, but to play with the representative of a loathsome regime… this is not acceptable for Iranian people."