Sunday, June 04, 2006

Iran trip alarms Germans

Michael Theodoulou, Times Online:
PRESIDENT Ahmadinejad of Iran has jangled German nerves by announcing that he may cheer on his country’s team in person at the World Cup.

Germany is obliged to admit heads of state of World Cup teams, but Mr Ahmadinejad has also denied the Holocaust — a crime under German law. READ MORE

On Saturday he told Iran’s team: “If you make it to the second round, I would try to join you.”

Iran, which faces Mexico, Portugal and Angola, plays its first match in Nuremberg, the city that became synonymous with Hitler’s rallies and the trials of Nazi war criminals.

Yesterday Theo Zwanziger, of the German football association, said that if the President arrived “he will be told that what he said is absolutely unacceptable, criminal and far removed from reality. But he said that banning him would only “make him a martyr”.

If Mr Ahmadinejad stays away, the Iran team’s presence could ease some of the international tension surrounding the country over its nuclear programme.