November 28, 2022

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Taj’s return to Iran football federation is problematic

TEHRAN – Mehdi Taj, former president of the football federation, and five other candidates have registered for the presidency of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI). His presence in Iran football will be problematic.

The candidate filing period of the FFIRI is closed. Six candidates have been registered.

Aziz Mohammadi, Mehdi Taj, the acting president of FFIRI, Mirshad Majdi, Alireza Asadi, Mohammad Akhundi, and Amir Vaez Ashtiani are the candidates for the post.

The head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation (IRIFF) will be elected on Aug. 30.

Shahaboddin Azizi Khadem was removed from the presidency of IRIFF in February, a year after he had been appointed president. Since then, the Federation has been run by Mirshad Majedi as acting president.

The registration of Mehdi Taj has caused controversy among the Iranian football community. The former president of the Federation from 2016 to 2019 is one of the most debatable figures in the history of Iranian sports. He has introduced Mehdi Mohammadnabi and Mansour Ghanbarzadeh as his would-be vice presidents.

In August 2020, during Taj’s tenure of the FFIRI, the Federation undertook to pay $8.3m to Marc Wilmots, a former coach of the Iranian national team contracted by Taj.

Wilmots was in the country for fewer than 40 days before leaving his seat. The Belgian coach claimed “serious contractual violations” by the Iranian football federation, and FIFA partially accepted the claim.

The 63-year-old Taj is optimistic he will emerge the winner of the election.

Many Iranian football experts believe his possible winning in the FFIRI presidential election means a step back in the country’s football.

Mirshad Majedi, the acting president of the Federation, seems to be the main rival of Taj. Despite his status, he is not necessarily the favorite in this election due to a lack of support from the FFIRI Assembly members.

Aziz Mohammadi and Asadi have the experience of working in the football federation as the head of the league organization and the general secretary of the Federation, respectively.

Vaez Ashtiani is a former general manager of the Esteghlal club. He is mainly known as a political and economic figure in Iran. Akhundi has the experience of being in the position of spokesman of the Ministery of Sports for a while.

Looking at the names of the candidates, it seems that Taj’s chance to take over the position of the president of the Iranian football federation is more than his rivals.

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