حسن نايب آقا، بازيكن جام جهاني فوتبال: آنها همبازيهايم را كشتند

World Cup Soccer Player, Hassan Nayebagha:
“They Killed My Teammates”

Interview with Gazetta Dello Sport
18 June 2014

Which is the relationship between soccer and Iranian society and governement? What did the regime think about soccer? And what does it think now?

Iranians love soccer too much. You can see it from our full stadiums of 100.000 spectators to 50.000 and etc… for premier league championship. This nation has a huge capacity for football and is entitled to be one of the best football teams in the world. But we suffer a lot from the interference of dictatorial regimes in our football system.
During the Shah›s dictatorship, there were Army Generals who were appointed by the Shah to be head of sport system. Now, mullahs appoint the suppressive Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) to be the Minister of sport and football federation without even knowing anything about sport and football.
The mullahs labelled football as «Imperialistic game» and banned it in 1979. Now they misuse it to continue their brutal rule across the country and spend billions of Euros on it.

Is soccer a way to get consensus or something scaring the regime?

Oh, yes. Certainly. In a country, where peaceful demonstrations are suppressed brutally, footbal plays an important role to bring about the whole population together to confront the Iranian religious dictatorship. We have seen this in so many ocasions where Iranian fans cry slogans against the regime. You have witnessed this concensus in the 1998 World Cup in France, where more than 30.000 Iranian fans shout slogans against the Iranian regimes and in favour of the Iranian players and the opposition.
This infact scares the regime too much, that›s why they committed so much crimes against the national champions and slain dozens of them.

Is anything changing with the government Rouhani?

No, Not at all. You heard from Mr Ban Ki Moon that the situation of human rights in Iran, has been deteriorated during Rouhani government. In fact, the number of executions have rised up almost twice.
Tell us your story as a soccer player and as a dissident
I used to play professional footbal for 10 years, reaching 1978 World Cup in Argentina and 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. We were hoping the new government after the Shah›s downfall, would bring democracy and human rights to Iran as well as a progressive and democratic sport system, governed by the capable Iranian sport experts, managers, trainers, and sport champions. But this dream did not come true.
The fanatical mullahs› regime killed more than 120.000 of our young and beloved compatriots, among them somr hundreds of our best national champions and athletes.
When 2 members of my family and some national champions, who were supporting the opposion Mojahedin Organisation, were executed by the religious dictatorship in Iran, I decided to join to the freedom movement of Iran for democracy and human rights in my country. At that time I was doing my Doctoral thesis in University of California at San Diego, while being an Assistant Professor in that University.

How many athletes were massacred by the regime? Can you talk us about Habib Khabiri?

From June 1981, which the Iranian regime started the nass execution of the Iranian people, there has been some hundreds Iranian athletes who were executed brutally by the Iranian regime. Among them were some dozens national champions such as Habib Khabiri, 29, member of Iran›s national football team during the preliminary matches of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, Forouzan Abdi, 31, a member of the Iranian women national team, Ala Koushali (Hamid Etrati), 28, was a popular football player in north of Iran, played for Iran major clubs such as Perspolis and Daraei and Iran selected football Team, Nazanin Azimzadeh, 19, an Iranian young woman and talented gymnastic champion, Houshang Montazer ol-Zohour, 28, was a member of Iran›s national wrestling team in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in Greco-Roman disciplin, Shahla Shahdoust, a member of the Iranian Table Tennis women Team…
Habib Khabiri was best friend of mine. He was arrested in 1983, and was executed under torture, a year after, because of his political beliefs. He was one of the best Iranian and Asian football player in early 1980›s, who scored the last goal for Iran national Team, before going to 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
Habib Khabiri bacame the Iranian National Team Captain in 1981, and ruthlessly was executed by the Mullah›s regime in 1984.

What could Europe and Fifa do to develop a free sport culture in your country?
We have been pulled back to the medieval era by the fanatical regime in Iran. They do not allow our daughters and women to be present in the stadiums. They forced our good women champions to dress as what they dictate. They have appointed some criminal revolutionary guards as the head of different sport federations. All of these are againt FIFA regulations and Olympic charters. FIFA and Europe could assist us in pushing the International laws and regulations to be fulfilled in our sport, or to ban the regime from the international events. This will put a lot of pressure on Iranian regime and help the Iranian athletes some of their basic human rights, before the Iranian people could manage to bring about a regime change and democracy to Iran.

Are you going to support Iranian National Team in Brasil? Which players do you like? Can it overcome the first stage? And where can you get?

I wish the Iranian National Team to be so successful in Brasil, as I wish the Iranian people will get rid of this inhumanistic regime soon. The essence of sport and football is freedom, peace, love and friendship. And I wish very soon our young generation could be a part of international sport community.