British politician wants Iran barred from World Cup

January 13, 2006

LONDON -- A leading British politician called for Iran to be expelled from soccer's World Cup for resuming its nuclear program.

Conservative lawmaker Michael Ancram said Friday such a move "would give a very, very clear signal to Iran that the international community will not accept what they are doing."

"It may be unpleasant, but you can give a very hard signal which isn't going to hurt people as such but is going to at least give a chance of registering in the minds of the Iranian people that what their president is doing is unacceptable to the international community," Ancram, a former Tory foreign affairs spokesman, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Iran is one 32 teams that will play in the monthlong soccer showcase that begins in Germany on June 9.

Soccer's governing body said last month it would not expel Iran despite calls from German politicians for the country to be excluded because the Iranian president denies the Holocaust.

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said from his group's Swiss headquarters that any such move would have to be initiated by governments or international political organizations, such as the United Nations.

"FIFA is a sporting organization and not a political organization," he said, adding that the Iran soccer federation that qualified had done so "in accordance with our rules and regulations."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was "not certain" sports sanctions against Iran would help.

Iran has come under increasing pressure to cease nuclear activities until an agreement has been reached on the scope of its nuclear program. Tehran insists it wants only to develop nuclear energy, but there are widespread fears Iran is seeking atomic weapons.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press