Iranian President Ahmadinejad training with the national soccer team in March (Fars)
PRAGUE, June 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- In the hours before Iran's World Cup team started its first match, around 1,000 people gathered in the German city of Nuremberg to protest against Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust.
Police say that German Jews, politicians, and Iranian dissidents attended the demonstration. Protesters said Ahmadinejad is unwelcome at the World Cup tournament.
Ahmadinejad has suggested that he might visit Iran's team during the Word Cup, but has announced no specific plans to attend. Jewish groups want him banned from entering Germany, where denying the Holocaust is a crime. Germany's government says the Iranian leader is protected by his diplomatic status.
Earlier, Iran's coach Branko Ivankovic called on reporters to focus on soccer and stop asking him about Ahmadinejad's controversial views on Israel and the Holocaust.