The global wrestling organization has banned an Iranian athlete for six months after he threw a match to avoid facing an Israeli, according to the BBC. The United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber announced the decision on Friday.
Alireza Karimachiani was competing against Russian Alikhan Zhabrilov in the under 23 competition in November last year. He had been winning when his coach ordered him to lose. If he had won the match, he would have competed against an Israeli in the next round.
Karimachiani has now been banned for six months. His coach, Hamidreza Jamshidi, was banned until November 2019. Iran intends to protest the ban.
“Karimachiani, on instruction of his coach Jamshidi, wilfully lost his 1/8 finals match against Alikhan Zhabrilov,” the chamber said in a statement. “Both wrestler and coach were found to have acted in direct violation of the International Wrestling Rules… and the UWW Disciplinary Regulations.”
Iran has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Like many Muslim states, Iran refuses to face Israel at sporting events. In 2016 in the World Youth Championships in Hungary, Iranian wrestler Yarahmadi Peyman was forced to fake an injury in order to avoid fighting an Israeli. The exchange with his coach, captured on TV by Al Jazeera, showed the young man driven to tears.
Iran and Israel are currently at loggerheads over the Syrian border with Israel, where Israel fears Iran is building up troops, including supporting militias, for a possible attacks on Israel.
Meanwhile in the United Arab Emirates, a soccer player for the UAE’s Arabian Gulf League was fined for an “unethical haircut.” Caio, a midfielder originally from Brazil, was fined $272 by UAE Football Association’s disciplinary committee. A number of other players for the UAE team have been similarly fined for their haircuts which do not fit conservative Islamic cultural standards.
Saudi Arabia has also told players to cut their “un-Islamic” hair, refusing to let them on the playing field until they comply.