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Israeli, Iranian soccer stars pose together on social media to bridge nations’ divide

“In soccer, there are different rules, and there is one language without prejudice and without wars,” Maccabi Haifa and Israel National Team player Maor Buzaglo said on Facebook.

Maor Buzaglo, left, and Iran’s Ashkan Dejagah in a photo posted on Buzaglo’s Facebook page on March 18, 2018. Credit: Facebook.
Maor Buzaglo, left, and Iran’s Ashkan Dejagah in a photo posted on Buzaglo’s Facebook page on March 18, 2018. Credit: Facebook.

An Israeli soccer player and the captain of the Iranian national team took to the Internet to show that the people of Iran and the people of Israel do not harbor hate.

“In soccer, there are different rules, and there is one language without prejudice and without wars,” Maccabi Haifa and Israel National Team player Maor Buzaglo posted in Hebrew on Facebook and Twitter. “The captain of the Iranian national team and I show it can be different.”

Buzaglo posted a picture of himself sitting on a table with Ashkan Dejagah, Iran’s national team captain.

Dejagah refused to play with the German Under 21 team in Israel in 2007, but said he had declined out of fear that he would be jailed by the regime if he ever went back to Iran.

Iran does not recognize the State of Israel, and forbids all of its athletes and coaches from competing against Israelis.

Earlier this month, the head of Iran’s wrestling federation resigned due to Iran’s policy of throwing wrestling matches against Israelis. In February, an Israeli judoka won a bronze medal at the Dusseldorf Grand Slam competition after his Iranian opponent intentionally gained weight to avoid competing with the Israeli in his weight class.

In August, two Iranian soccer players were booted from the national team for competing against an Israeli team during their professional careers in the Greek soccer club Panionios.

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