Iran's soccer team, known by its nickname Team Melli (file photo)

Iran's soccer team, known by its nickname Team Melli, is headed to Vancouver for an exhibition game on June 5 despite objections by those who lost loved ones in Iran’s downing of Flight PS752 in 2020.

Iran-Canada Controversial Football Friendly In Limbo

5/25/2022

The Canadian government has told Iran International that all visitors are carefully screened before entering Canada, dodging a direct response whether the Iranian football team will be allowed in the country.

In response to an inquiry by Iran International Tuesday, Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship department (IRCC) said it is committed to the fair and robust application of immigration procedures and also to the safety and security of the Canadian public. But Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, said on Wednesday that the match between Canada and Iran is on the verge of cancellation as Iranian players may not be able to obtain visas to enter Canada.

“All visitors to Canada from visa-required countries must meet the visa eligibility requirements" the IRCC said, adding, “background screening is an important part of the overall assessment of whether a person is admissible to Canada.”

The Iranian national soccer team’s manager Hamid Estili, who is going to Canada for the controversial friendly next month, recently attended a party with Mahmoud Khazein, who is wanted by the FBI in relation to a plot to kidnap international targets, including three people in Canada.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his belief it was a "bad idea" to host the game but said ultimately it is not his decision about whether it will be allowed to go ahead.

The match has angered those who lost loved ones in Iran’s downing of Flight PS752 in 2020, and are demanding that Canada Soccer abandon its plan for the game, saying they feel "betrayed" by the decision to have the Iranian team in British Colombia, a sentiment the prime minister said he shares.

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