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FIFA Rejects Calls To Expel Iran From World Cup

Iranian President Ahmadinejad (center) training with the national soccer team in Tehran on March 1. (Fars) March 5, 2006 -- The governing body of world soccer, FIFA will ignore calls for Iran to be expelled from of this summer's World Cup because of the controversy over its nuclear activities, it said today.

Emmanuel Maradas, a FIFA spokesman and special assistant to Sepp Blatter, the organization's president, said "FIFA has nothing to do with politics."

"Iran is a FIFA member, they have qualified for the World Cup and they will be there to play football for the good of Iranian youth and for the good of peace," Maradas said.

The idea of expelling Iran from the tournament in Germany was raised by European and Israeli lawmakers after Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad described the Nazi Holocaust as a "myth" and Iran resumed its controversial nuclear program.

Iran's national squad is scheduled to play its first match against Mexico in Nuremberg on June 11.