An Iranian soccer club has turned down the chance to test itself against the Serbian champion because Avram Grant manages the Serbian club. Iran’s Sepahan canceled its game with Partizan Belgrade because Grant is an Israeli, according to the Associated Press.
The game was scheduled to be played on Friday in Antalya, Turkey, as part of Partizan’s preseason preparations. But Sepahan informed Partizan that it was cancelling the game just days in advance.
Grant told the Partizan Belgrade website that the “unofficial” reason for the cancellation was his nationality. He described the move as “shameful”, citing this is a classic case of sports and politics mixing with unfortunate results.
“I never mixed politics with sports,” Grant said. “I had worked with many [Muslims] while I was in England, and I made friends with many of them.”
Grant is one of Israeli soccer’s great success stories, managing clubs in three countries. A missed penalty kick is all that prevented the 57-year-old from winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea FC in 2008. He also managed Israel’s national team, as well as English clubs Portsmouth and West Ham.
Partizan also had to move its training camp from Dubai to Turkey because of Grant’s Israeli citizenship.
Photo via Flickr/Whistling in the Dark