Racist football commentator: Better to pay a fine for refusing to play a match than to play against Saudis


This footage shows Reza Rashidpour, a well-known Iranian sports pundit and TV show presenter on Iran’s Channel 3, interviewing another renowned football commentator Javad Khiabani, who’s also extremely well known for his overt anti-Arab racism, on a show in December last year 2016.

The interview begins with Rashidpour saying, “Instead of being held in neighbouring countries which have unsafe environments, we Iranians hosted the football matches of the Asian Champions League.  After this, [heavily sarcastic tone] ‘dear Saudi Arabia’  repeatedly raised the issue and focused on it in international assemblies, claiming that  Iran, due to its lack of security for our [Saudi] players, couldn’t host the matches to be held between Saudi Arabia’s football teams and Iranian football teams.  I want to find out the opinion of Mr. Javad Khiabani on the Saudis’ amusing actions.”

Khiabani responds: “They aren’t ‘dear’ to me, and their action is too tasteless.”

Rashidpour, laughing sardonically,  replies: “Well,  we could call them ‘dear’ for abiding by their diplomatic principles.”

Khiabani answers: “Well as a football commentator I’ve been to Riyadh and  Jeddah and different places a few times for football matches there between our teams and their [Saudi Arabia’s] teams, and Saudis are one of the rudest, most uncivil and impolite people with the worst football environment in their cities.”

He continued angrily “If I was the decision-maker, I’d say, ‘We won’t play against Saudi Arabia in their land; let the result of the game be declared three-nil in their favour and we’ll pay the fine, however much it is; isn’t  our country able to pay a football fine?  I think the fine imposed for those teams that won’t attend a game is about 20,000 [Iranian Rials], as well as the money for the advertising before the game. Okay, never mind, let’s pay that too; we  may not like this, but in return we can keep our heads held high.”

Rashidpour interjected to ask him, “You mean that if were the head of the Football Federation, you wouldn’t allow this to occur?”, referring to travelling for football matches in Saudi Arabia.

Khiabani assents.  “Yes, if I was the decision-maker, I wouldn’t go there or play against them.  Believe me if you raise the stick the cat runs away, right?  Let’s do this and let’s see if it will work – why should we go to play with them on their land?    Afghanistan’s national team yesterday played in Iran with 25,000 fans. Iraq also played in Ekbatan Stadium [in Tehran] with 20,000 fans.    Look, the  World Cup qualifier games were held concurrently in Tehran – Iran-Oman; Vietnam-Iraq, and Afghanistan with Singapore.  How come nothing’s happened and nobody has a bleeding nose?  [The last phrase is a ‘Persian idiom meaning ‘Nobody was hurt or injured]’.

Rashidpour responds to Khiabani, saying, “Yes I agree with you.  Well this is very bad. I don’t know how they decide this issue, through diplomatic channels or some other means, I’m not very knowledgeable about it.”

Khiabani replies, “Look, out of 16 members of the AFC Executive Committee, nine are Saudi, so it’s clear why they do so, therefore it’s the AFC’s decision,” with Rashidpour responding sarcastically, “Well it’s the opinion of the Saudis.