World Cup 2022: Why have Ukraine asked FIFA to ban Iran from tournament?

FIFA been urged to consider banning Iran from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Per ESPN, it emerged on Monday that the Ukrainian football federation had made the request in light of alleged human rights violations by Iran, as well as their apparent ongoing support of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Iran are due to take their place in Group B at the tournament alongside England, Wales and the USA. The first match of their campaign (against England) is scheduled to take place in just 20 days’ time.

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Russia and Iran both continue to reject the findings of international intelligence services, who believe that Iranian drones have been used by Russian forces to bomb Ukraine.

Traditionally, FIFA has not suspended member nations over military decisions made by their governments – only acting when interference in footballing matters is suspected.

A separate campaign to suspend the Iranian national team over the country’s treatment of women is also ongoing. Females have long been prevented from freely attending sporting events in Iran.

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As part of their bylaws, world football’s governing body is committed to ‘respecting all internationally recognized human rights’.

FIFA chiefs did suspend all Russian teams from international competitions at the start of their invasion of Ukraine back in February.

This sanction also included banning the national side from participation in the World Cup play-offs – although this decision was officially made over ‘risks to the security and integrity’ of FIFA competitions.

CARDIFF, WALES – JUNE 05: Ukraine players pose for a team photo with their country’s flag prior to the FIFA World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Ukraine at Cardiff City Stadium on June 05, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Ukraine to replace Iran at the World Cup?

Ukraine’s bid to qualify for the World Cup faltered at the final hurdle back in June, when they were eliminated by Wales in a European playoff final.

However, last week, the chief executive of top Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk called upon FIFA to strip Iran of their World Cup spot and instead hand it to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian federation themselves have made no such argument, but still want Iran expelled from the tournament in view of the accusations levied against them.

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Iran were among five Asian confederation teams to qualify for the World Cup – joining hosts Qatar.

The United Arab Emirates put on the ‘next best’ performance in qualifying in the region, narrowly missing out on a place at the tournament after losing in the intercontinental play-offs to Australia.

Fifa has yet to comment on Ukraine’s request. It remains to be seen who would take Iran’s place at the World Cup if they were to be banned.

You can find all of the latest football news and rumours right here.

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