The Blog

Red Carding Iran

The World Cup presents the international community with a unique opportunity to force a choice in Iran.

3:16 PM, May 1, 2006 • By MIKE MCGAVICK
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To make matters worse, in a remarkable demonstration of hypocrisy, Iran has consistently refused to let its athletes compete against Israel. Also, last November, Iran barred a South Korean company from sponsoring a four-nation soccer tournament in Tehran because of South Korea's vote against Iran's nuclear program at a meeting of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

I have heard many people say that politics and sports don't mix. But such a notion seems ridiculous when the name of a nation appears on the front of a sports jersey.

The international community, and American politicians, should insist that FIFA "get involved in politics." Iran can't have it both ways. It can't threaten the world at the same time it enjoys the world's fun.

There is precedent for this kind of diplomacy. In 1992, the European soccer governing body, UEFA, prevented the former Yugoslavia from participating in the European Cup in Sweden. And FIFA prevented what remained of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, from taking part in qualifying matches for the 1994 World Cup based on a U.N. Security Council resolution specifically calling on national governments to prevent Yugoslavian sports teams from competing in international events.

Iran needs to understand the consequences associated with its headlong push towards developing nuclear weapons. The foreign policy community has expressed a preference for sanctions which punish the Iranian regime and not the Iranian people. That may not be entirely possible, but no Iranian will be wanting for medicine or food if the national soccer team is prevented from competing in the World Cup. The world should use this opportunity to force a choice: either continue to provoke the world or join us in our international pastime. But not both.

Mike McGavick is a Republican candidate for Senate from the state of Washington.