Greece-Iran friendly falls by the wayside
The recent cancellation of Greece’s proposed friendly with Iran scheduled for June 2 came as a surprise to many, with the main stumbling block being the location and ongoing tensions between Greece and Turkey.
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Although the match was scheduled since February to take place in Istanbul, where Iran played a friendly against Turkey on Monday, Turkey’s arrest and detention of two Greek soldiers on the Evros border in March posed problems for the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO).
EPO president Evangelos Grammenos told his counterparts in Iran that Greece would not be traveling to Turkey, and instead invited them to play the match in Athens at Panionios’ Nea Smyrni stadium.
This offer was refused by the Iran FA for two reasons. A trip to Athens did not fit with their World Cup warm-up preparations, and secondly Iran could not play in a televised match in which visible sponsors would be advertisements for betting and alcoholic beverages. Since both of Greece’s main sponsors are from the betting and alcohol industries, the two parties could not come to an agreement.
Both teams wanted to play the match desperately and sought help from FIFA, who told the two nations to make their own agreement together. At this point both parties decided to cancel the fixture.