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February 23, 2012 11:10 am

Iran Calls Off International Soccer Match Due to Israeli Head Coach

avatar by Levi Epstein

Avram Grant. Photo: Mark Freeman.

Tensions that have been building in recent weeks between Israel and Iran  made an unwelcomed appearance in the middle eastern sporting world when the Iranian soccer team ‘Sepahan’ abruptly canceled a previously scheduled friendly match that was to take place in Antalya, Turkey against Serbian club ‘Partizan Belgrade.’ It turns out that Avram Grant , an Israeli citizen, is ‘Partizan Belgrade’s’ head coach.

ESPN reported that Grant, a former Chelsea, Portsmouth and West Ham coach who took over at Partizan last month, says the decision by the Iranian club is “shameful.”

Avram Grant, who last month was named manager of the Serbian soccer club, said in a statement on the team’s website that he had been told “unofficially” that last Friday’s match against Sepahan had been canceled because he was Israeli.

“I never mixed politics with sports,” he said. “I had worked with many Muslims while I was in England, and I made friends with many of them.”

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In addition Partizan says they had to switch their club’s usual winter training program from Dubai to Antalya because of Grant’s Israeli citizenship.

Grant is a highly decorated head coach who was also manager of the Israeli national team for four years before making the move to England in 2006.

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