Two Iranian footballers have landed in hot water after sharing content on social media related to Turkey’s military operation in Syria.
Iran’s football federation has suspended Mehdi Babri of Tractor Sazi, a team from the East Azerbaijan province, after he published an image of Turkey’s flag and army on Instagram.
Babri deleted the post after a few hours, but his action led to him being suspended from participating in professional football activities until a decision is made on his case.
The footballer’s post comes after Turkey launched a military operation in northern Syria last week against Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers a threat to its national security.
Babri and most of the population in the Iranian provinces of East and West Azerbaijan and Ardabil are ethnically Turk.
An Iranian Kurd footballer, Sirvan Ghorbani of Sanate Naft club, also received a suspension after he responded to Babri’s Instagram post with coarse insults. Ghorbani’s comment was also later deleted.
In a statement by Iran’s football federation, the governmental body asked all professional football players to “only make comments about their own professional field of activity”.
The Iranian government and Kurdish activists have condemned Turkey’s current military operation in northern Syria. However, many Pan-Turkists living in western Iran feel an affinity to authorities in neighbouring Turkey.
Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has regularly urged other foreign military forces to leave Syria.
Source: Middle East Eye
Note by AN.T: Tractor Sazi is the old name of the football club. Its formal name is Tractor. There is no Pan-Turkist in Iran. They are only Turks and struggle for their national identity. The word Pan-Turkist is used by Iran regime to convict civil operations of Iranian Turks.