Iran's president has 'no plans' to visit World Cup

10th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 April 2006, TEHRAN - The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that there are no plans for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the 2006 World Cup in Germany, state television IRIB reported. "We have no official plan on the agenda for the football World Cup," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi was quoted as saying to reporters in a press conference in Tehran. The head of the Iranian Football Federation, Mohammad-Ali Dadkan, said Thursday during a visit to Nuremberg's World Cup stadium th

10 April 2006

TEHRAN - The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that there are no plans for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the 2006 World Cup in Germany, state television IRIB reported.

"We have no official plan on the agenda for the football World Cup," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi was quoted as saying to reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

The head of the Iranian Football Federation, Mohammad-Ali Dadkan, said Thursday during a visit to Nuremberg's World Cup stadium that Ahmadinejad might come to Germany to watch Iran's first World Cup match against Mexico on June 11 in the local Frankenstadium.

"This is definitely possible. Our president likes football. He often visits games of the national team," said Dadkan.

The German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Saturday said that his government would not oppose a visit by President Ahmadinejad to watch his team play at the football World Cup.

"He is welcome to come to the World Cup. We want to be good hosts," said Schaeuble.

But Schaeuble also admitted "it won't be easy" to have Ahmadinejad in Germany and said he plans to "approach him over several remarks in the past."

Ahmadinejad was elected Iran's president last autumn and has since denied the Holocaust and called for Israel to be wiped off the map or be relocated to Germany and Austria.

The statements led to calls for Iran to be kicked out of the June 9-July 9 World Cup, but they were dismissed by the ruling body FIFA, local organizers and the German government.

Schaeuble said there were security concerns around the Iran team, which is also playing against Portugal and Angola in the opening group stage.

The authorities fear that German neo-Nazis may use the Iran games to express sympathy with Ahmadinejad. East German right-wingers reportedly plan the same for the game against Angola in Leipzig.

DPA

Subject: German news

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