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Iranian Austerity And Piety Curb World Cup Party

TEHRAN — A member of the Iranian Parliament's cultural affairs committee says he and his colleagues are "firmly opposed" to any Iranian legislator attending the World Cup in Brazil "for any reason" — primarily because the country should save money.

In response to chatter about sending certain members to the global soccer event, Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Ali Taheri conveyed his committee's opposition to the sports minister, citing economic reasons, the reformist Aftab-e Yazd daily reported.

The parliament member also invoked Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has issued instructions about following "an economy of resistance."

Taheri was referring to austerity and self-sufficiency measures Iran must apply in the face of ongoing UN sanctions. Despite the country's enthusiastic penchant for soccer — it would be no exaggeration to call the country soccer-crazy — Taheri said the sports minister agreed. Yet the minister told lawmakers that he had been invited, and that "it is natural I should go."

Beyond the expense, sending Iranian representatives to Brazil is problematic for cultural reasons. With the nightlife, girls, parties, booze, bikinis, beaches and more, Brazil is basically Iran's nemesis in terms of personal freedoms.

Who then will supervise Iran's soccer team there and ensure they do not go astray? Taheri said measures could be taken that do not involve sending MPs. Iran has diplomats in Brazil, and presumably those could be entrusted to watch and ensure that Iran's footballers have as rotten a time as possible off the field.

— Ahmed Shayegan

Photo: FIFA

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