In the annals of Iranian football, the era preceding the 1979 Islamic Revolution witnessed the rise of esteemed club managers who left an indelible mark on the sports history.

Once revered, figures like Parviz Khosravani of Taj FC, Ali Abdo of Persepolis FC, Karim Rastegari-Rad of Malavan FC, Mahmoud Hariri of Shahin FC, and Parviz Dehdari of Homa FC, have now faded from prominence.

As the nation rallies behind its football team competing in the Asian Cup in Qatar, the Islamic Republic has implemented unconventional measures to bolster popular support.

Football clubs’ executive managers have been discreetly dispatched to Qatar, along with members of the paramilitary Basij force and seminary students.

Who is Abbas Qeshmi Maimand?

The Persian section of the Asian Football Confederation’s Instagram page has shared a video showing government-affiliated spectators fervently cheering for the Iranian team from the stands of Qatari stadiums last week.

Among the enthusiastic crowd, the CEO of Mes Shahr Babak FC, Abbas Qeshmi Maimand, can be seen actively applauding and cheering in the opening moments of the video.

Qeshmi, commonly known as Abbas Qeshmi in Iranian football circles, assumed the role of CEO of Mes Shahr Babak in June 2020.

At the time, the Young Journalists Club described him as a man “educated in the field of cultural policy” and a “media” man with a background in sports journalism.

Prior to that, he garnered recognition as a social and political columnist for the Fararo news website, an outlet closely aligned with fundamentalist ideologies.

It’s been reported that before delving into political and social commentary, he occasionally contributed sports-related articles to student publications.

In 2019, Qeshmi ran for a seat in parliament after securing approval from the Guardian Council, but he failed to be elected.

Ultimately, Qeshmi found himself amongst the ranks of football “spectators” in Qatar.

What Does the CEO of a Sports Club Do in Qatar?

Shahr Babak Mes FC is among the sports clubs affiliated with the National Copper Industries Company of Iran, which is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The club, currently competing in football League Two, stands two tiers below the Premier League.

The club is active in sitting volleyball.

Traditionally, the presence of club CEOs at competitions involving Iranian national football teams is commonplace.

During the 2000 Asian Cup, For instance, Amir Abedini, the CEO of Persepolis club, met his counterpart from Belgium’s Royal Charlevoix FC regarding the transfer of player Alireza Emamifar.

However, the presence of the CEO of an industrial club among government-affiliated spectators who are remunerated $50 per day to support the Iranian national football team can be surprising.

Furthermore, the act of fervently cheering from the stands in an organized manner appears incongruent with the professional background of someone who presents themselves as a public relations manager, a doctoral student specializing in cultural policy, and a media activist.

Qeshmi is not the sole Iranian football official to have traveled to Qatar to partake in the “organized cheering” of Iran’s football team at the government’s expense.

Before and after the team’s first match against Palestine, images surfaced depicting Soheil Mehdi, the spokesman of the Iran Football League Organization, wearing the attire of these supporters amid the spectators.

What appears evident is that the Football Federation, the Basij Organization, and the IRGC have collectively paid for the costs of the “spectators.”

Even the CEO of an industrial club or the spokesperson of a prominent football organization in Iran deems themselves entitled to a “$50 salary,” “complimentary meals,” and a “free trip” to Qatar in exchange for cheering on the football team for the duration of the match.

Source » iranwire