Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said the United States, England and France deserved to be eliminated in the World Cup for imposing nuclear sanctions on Tehran, newspapers reported on Wednesday. "In this World Cup you see a meaningful correlation between politics and diplomacy and football," Mottaki was quoted as saying by Tehran Emrouz newspaper.
"Those who played a key role in new sanctions against Iran such as America, England and France were eliminated in the early stages and some countries that were somehow involved in sanctions did not get into higher rounds," he said. Iranians are fervent football enthusiasts but their national team did not qualify for this year's World Cup in South Africa.
In a US-led move the UN Security Council this month adopted a fourth set of sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, which world powers fear is masking a covert weapons drive despite Iran's denial.
France went down in the group stages, while England and the United States were eliminated in the last 16 knock-out round. Iran played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany but failed to make it to the second round. The media grilled football officials for months over the team's poor performance.
Iran's best game in its three appearances in the World Cup was in 1998, when they beat the US team 2-1.