Iran president considers World Cup trip

April 6, 2006

BERLIN, April 6 (Reuters) - Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may travel to Germany to watch his national team play at the World Cup in June, the head of Iran's soccer federation said on Thursday.

Mohammad Ali Dadkan was quoted by Germany's SID sport news agency as telling journalists that Ahmadinejad was a keen fan.

'A visit to the World Cup is quite possible,' said Dadkan, president of the Iran federation. 'Our president loves soccer. He has regular meetings with the players on the team.'

Dadkan spoke while inspecting the Nuremberg stadium, one of 12 World Cup venues where Iran will play their first match.

Ahmadinejad has been criticised in Germany and around the world for inflammatory remarks about Israel and questioning whether six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Iran has also refused demands by Western countries as well as Russia and China to suspend activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons, insisting that it has the sovereign right to a full nuclear programme.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Ahmadinejad's statements on the Holocaust unacceptable but has spoken out against banning Iran from the World Cup, despite such calls from a number of German and Israeli lawmakers.

Holocaust denial is a serious crime punishable with a prison term of up to five years in Germany.

Iran play Mexico in their first match on June 11.