By Martin Petty
BANGKOK, Dec 4 (Reuters) – The Iranian Football Federation (IFF) is likely to postpone this week’s election for a new president after world governing body FIFA refused to recognise the polls, an IFF official told Reuters on Tuesday.
The election, scheduled for Thursday, is expected to be put back because of a dispute over the IFF’s new statutes, Amirhossein Karimpour, the IFF’s head of international relations, said.
The statutes, approved by FIFA in June, are aimed at halting political meddling in the Iranian game.
“We expect the election to be postponed, probably until January,” Karimpour said by telephone. “A decision is expected tomorrow, we still have some problems about the statutes.”
The dispute surrounds the candidacy of Mohammad Aliabadi, one of Iran’s vice-presidents and head of the country’s Physical Education Organisation (PEO).
Iran were temporarily suspended from international matches in November last year because of excessive political interference in domestic soccer, mainly by the PEO, which has run sport in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
FIFA said it would not recognise the election because new statutes drafted by the IFF’s transitionary board stipulated that politicians would be barred from taking the top post.
“FIFA had informed the IFF last week that if the candidacy of the PEO Chairman, Mr Aliabadi, for the planned IFF presidential election was confirmed, the world’s football governing body would not be in a position to recognise this election,” a FIFA spokesman said.
“In fact, as stipulated in the version of the IFF Statutes which had been approved by FIFA in June this year, the PEO Chairman and Vice-Chairman can become members of the IFF General Assembly but cannot be elected as IFF President.”
Several IFF officials and high-profile coaches and managers have been replaced since president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a huge soccer fan, swept to power in 2005.
Iran are one of the most successful teams in Asian soccer and have won the Asian Cup three times and made appearances in two of the last three World Cup finals.