Two key players banned from Iran national team

Two key players banned from Iran national team
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Published August 11th, 2017 - 21:25 GMT via

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Masoud Shojaei
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Two key players have been banned from the Iran national team and face missing out on the 2018 World Cup after playing against Israeli opposition with their club in European competition, reports said Thursday.

Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi of Greek club Panionios were sanctioned for playing against Israel side Maccabi Tel-Aviv in a Europa League qualifier last week.

"Both players have stepped over the red line and will therefore be excluded from the national team," deputy sports minister Mohamed Rese Dawarsani was quoted by Iranian media as saying.

Iranian athletes normally avoid competing against Israelis given the hostility between their respective nations.

And though Shojaei captained his country and Hajsafi was also considered a key player, they were not spared bans.

Iranian footballers playing outside their home country should include clauses in their contracts which prevent them playing against Israeli clubs, the country's foreign ministry said Monday.

Fans have taken to Twitter with the hashtag 'football is not political' to defend the duo who are now set to miss out on the World Cup in Russia next year. Iran have already secured their place at the finals with two games still remaining in Asian qualifying.

© 2017 dpa GmbH

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