On Thursday, September 1st, the Jules Rimet trophy stopped at Milad Tower in Tehran during the global tour ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Despite Qatar 2022 being Iran’s sixth appearance in the World Cup, this is the first time the World Cup trophy has made its presence in its nation. Former Iranian goalkeeper Ahmad Abedzadeh, who played for Team Melli during France 1998, helped reveal the gold-plated trophy. He was joined alongside by Iran’s newly elected football federation president, Mehdi Taj.

Mehdi Taj is the soccer executive who has returned to his former role. The managing director served as president between 2016 and 2019. Moreover, Mehdi Taj has been a member of the AFC Emergency Committee since May 2020. As a board member, he engages in meetings regarding regional issues, such as the most recent COVID-19 outbreak.

The newly elected President has been at the forefront of discussions with Gianni Infantino, the President of FIFA, about resolving the issues ever-present within Iran’s soccer society. The most famous case is women’s rights at soccer matches.

Earlier this year, thousands of female ticket holders in Iran were deterred with tear gas prior to a qualifying match. FIFA has repeated its admonitions to the Iranian government that they must refrain from intervening in the affairs of their soccer federation. With the World Cup in the Middle East looming on the horizon, Mehdi Taj intends to find solutions, avoiding a suspension from soccer’s world governing body.

“We have to work together to solve our problems. Now is the time for hard work. I thank the two other candidates. We must move towards brotherhood and cooperation. The past is the past; we must move forward.”

There’s a glimmer of hope as it pertains to women’s rights for Iran. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, women have been banned from sporting events due to fundamentalist decrees from Iran’s Shiite theocracy. But, for example, female fans were permitted to attend a recent soccer match at Tehran’s ‘Freedom Stadium,’ in a Persian Gulf Pro League match between Esteghlal FC vs. Kerman FC. The women were photographed donning their home team color of blue, taking selfies, and waving flags in a designated section. As the Persian Gulf Pro League makes progress, Mehdi Taj aims to continue the harmonious relations between the FFI and FIFA.

Iran sits in Group B as overwhelming underdogs against England, Wales, and the United States of America at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Other World Cup resources

Don’t miss our printable World Cup bracket as well as our in-depth World Cup TV schedule, so you don’t miss a single game.

Photo credit: xFfirix