TEHRAN - The elimination of England,
France and the United States in the early stages of the World
Cup was a just reward for their ill-treatment of Iran, its
foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Iran did not qualify for the tournament in South Africa but
fans have been glued to their televisions nonetheless in a
country where football is the number one sport.
While the United States - often referred to by Iran's
leaders as "the great Satan" - were never a favourite at the
tournament, the elimination of England and France before the
quarter-finals was a crushing blow to their fans back home.
England and the U.S. both lost in second round matches while
France and world champions Italy fell in the opening group
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said they had all got
what they deserved after they backed a new round of sanctions
against Iran over its nuclear programme which the West fears may
be aimed at making a bomb, something Tehran denies.
"Whatever we witness today in the international political
arena has been identically manifested in the 19th tournament of
the World Cup," Mottaki was quoted as saying by Iran's official
news agency IRNA.
"Those countries which played a key role in imposing new
sanctions against Iran - like England, America and France -
were all eliminated in the preliminary phases," he said.
Brazil, which voted against the sanctions, is one of the
favourites to win having impressively reached the last eight
with a crushing 3-0 victory over Chile on Monday.
Iran played at the last World Cup finals in Germany four
years ago but finished bottom of their qualifying group.
In 1998, they famously beat the United States 2-1 although
neither side went through to the next round.
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