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posted Friday, November 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 44
Iranian soccer players face flogging for butt squeeze
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Iranian soccer players face flogging for butt squeeze

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Two players for Iran's most popular soccer club, Persepolis, have been indefinitely suspended from their team, fined, and may be publicly flogged on the soccer pitch - all over a televised butt squeezing incident.

Fars News Agency reported on November 1 that members of the Iranian parliament, judges, and sports officials had called for 'swift punishment' of the players.

'What happened is absolutely not acceptable because it was a very ugly thing,' Jalal Yahyazadeh, a cleric and member of parliament, told Reuters.

The Iranian soccer federation's media committee 'demanded that elements who damaged the country's sporting spirit be dealt with firmly.'

The butt squeeze took place on October 30.

After a teammate scored the winning goal in a 3-2 match, Mohammad Nosrati grabbed teammate Sheys Rezaei's butt and squeezed it. Rezaei had reportedly squeezed Nosrati's butt earlier in the game.

Iran's Football Federation immediately suspended both players indefinitely and fined them nearly $40,000 each, Fars reported.

'Nosrati and Rezaei have been banned indefinitely from all football activities for committing immoral acts,' said Ismail Hasanzadeh, head of the federation's disciplinary committee.

A judiciary official told Fars that Nosrati and Rezaei could also face public flogging, to be carried out on the soccer pitch where the behavior occurred.

According to the norms of ultra-conservative Iran, the butt squeeze 'can be considered a violation of public chastity,' Judge Valiollah Hosseini told the news agency. 'The punishment of this crime is prison up to two months and 74 lashes.'

'It is even worse to do these actions before the eyes of thousands of spectators and TV cameras,' Hosseini added.

Iranian soccer stars say the authorities are overreacting to the latest indiscretion.

Ali Parvin, a former Persepolis coach and a venerated figure in Iranian soccer, has spoken out against punishing Nosrati and Rezaei, saying that officials should offer guidance to the players instead of punishing them.

'Come and execute them if it relieves you,' he said sarcastically.

Former national team player Mehdi Mahdavikia said Iranian media were making a big deal out of a minor incident.

'When I was playing in Germany, such things happened all the time,' he said.

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