In what Iranian officials are calling a mistake, Iran’s national soccer league sent a New Year’s goodwill message to its Israeli counterpart:
Mohammad Ali Ardebili, director of foreign relations for the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, told Army Radio that he had not intended to send the missive to the Israel Football Association.
“It is a greeting sent to every country in the world,” Ardebili said. He quickly then inquired: “Are you talking from Israel? I can’t speak with you. It’s a mistake, it’s a mistake.”
The message was received by Amir Navon – head of the Israel Football Association legal department.
The Israelis were unsure whether it was sincere or a mistake:
“He came into my office asking me if I thought it was a mistake. So I told him that I didn’t know, but that we should send in a reply,” said IFA spokesman Gil Levanoni.
The Israelis replied any way, writing: “happy new year to all the good people of Iran.” And that Iranians “would have a happy soccer year.”
They added a wink.
The Iranian soccer team attracted international attention earlier this year when they wore green armbands in solidarity with the Iranian opposition movement. During halftime, the players were forced to remove them.