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Blame It On The Reign

Iran's Javad Nekounam after the 2-1 loss to the Saudis on March 28
Iran's Javad Nekounam after the 2-1 loss to the Saudis on March 28
Just as politicians everywhere eagerly ride the wave of popular goodwill that comes with sporting achievements, Iran's president is being reminded that there's an ebb for every flow.

Some Iranian bloggers and Facebook users are trying to pin a home loss to Saudi Arabia in a 2010 World Cup qualifier on Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who is himself an avid football fan. The 2-1 setback dealt a severe blow to the national team's hopes for a berth in the championships, and already looks to have cost an angry Iranian coach his job.

But in the blogosphere, partisans claim the loss was the result of the "inauspicious" presence of Ahmadinejad, who is expected to seek reelection in the next few months and made a surprise visit to Tehran's Azadi Stadium in the 30th minute of the game.

A "Moj Now" blogger draws a parallel with a wrestling defeat to Azerbaijan after another unannounced Ahmadinejad entrance. He and others argue that the president should stay away until after the election, since a series of losses in his presence could jeopardize the president's presumed bid for reelection.

Another blogger appeals directly to Ahmadinejad's sense of fairness: "Uncle Mahmud, couldn't you watch the game on TV and come to the stadium afterward?" Why, he quips, should Iranians be forced to pay the price of the president's admission and then bear the further pain of defeat?

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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