Canada Soccer has cancelled a controversial friendly match with Iran’s national team after many Iranians objected to the visit of Iranian football officials.
The match planned to take place in Vancouver on June 5 was part of the Canadian men’s team’s preparation for World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Earlier in May as news emerged that Iranian football officials with ties to the country’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) were to accompany the team, many Canadian-Iranians launched campaigns to cancel the match.
At the forefront of the movement were families of victims who died when the IRGC shot down a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran in January 2020, killing all 176 onboard.
Hamed Esmaeilion, the chief spokesperson for the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, in an opinion piece for Canada’s Globe and Mail last week said that soccer in Iran is controlled by the IRGC, which is expected to send members to accompany the Iranian team and said it is shocking that Canada Soccer is inviting the Iranian national team.
Later, a photo emerged showing the Iranian team’s manager Hamid Estili with a man in Tehran in April who is wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for involvement in an alleged kidnapping plot of a New York-based Iranian activist.
The decision by Canada Soccer will be seen as a victory by Iranian human rights activists who have become much more vocal and effective in Europe and North America in recent years.