Racism Without Borders: How anti-minority discourse mars football games with Arab states


Before the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match between Iran and Qatar at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on March 23, 2017, the Iranian football commentators Mazdak Mirzaee and Javad Khiabani and Football analyst Mohammad Hassan Ansari Fard commented in a live program broadcasted from Iranian official channel 3.

Ansari Fard openly and shamelessly insulted Arabs by saying that Arabs because of their race are less talented and capable in football in comparison with Iranian (Fars) football players

He started by humiliating the number of Qatar population saying “as Qatar holds about 2 and a half million population but only 40 percent of the population are Arabs and rest of it are Nepalis with 13 percent, 20 percent are Indian and also 10 percent are Iranian. Therefore, a country such as Qatar whose Arab population is only 870,000 perhaps it is natural that this country seeks to employ foreign football players.  Of course with regard to talents that Arabs have compared to Iranians, as our supreme leader Ali Khamenei said, they are much less talented. Hence what I want to say is that Iran and maybe it is not the only country but one of the countries who plays with its native-born national football team and free of any foreign football players”.

In response to Fard’s claim, the commentator Javad Khiabani who is infamous for his outrageous and open racism towards Arabs during reporting football matches, said “yes what you are saying is completely true and correct.”

Sadly, Persian racism against Arabs is frequently observable in public statement and comments…  Whenever Iran issues any fiery statement against its Arab neighbors in the U.A.E, Qatar, or Kuwait, the bulk of the comments focuses on the tacit understanding that Persians are inherently superior.   When we listen to Iranian foreign minister, the parliament speaker, or even Shia mosque imams, and they use derogatory tone, focusing on the racial , rather than  political,  superiority of Persians. It is clear that Iranian regime is also paving the way for such a racism to exploit it as populist nationalism for its advantage due to its dispute with Arab regional countries.  They even have polluted the sports arena by publicly demonstrating their ugly hatred and racism not only against Arabs, but even against the ethnic minorities under the grip of Iranian regime oppression. For example, if one judges jokes as an indication of the way we view people, one will find how the Turkmens and Ahwazi Arabs, Turks, Kurds are the most frequent targets of offensive Iranian jokes. So, it is not surprising to see these repeated racist remarks by the Iranian football commentators. It confirms that Persians are plagued with megalomaniac delusion. Individuals such as Football Analyst Mohammad Hassan Ansari Fard quoted Ali Khamenei remarks,  considering Iranian people[Persians]   themselves superior to the Arabs, in regime  official television that millions of Arabs in Iran also listen and watch.

The miasma of hatred and racism is so pungent that it transcends the borders of Iran reaching its Arab neighbors.