Qatar 2022: Will Iran be banned from 2022 World Cup? Who would replace them and why may they be kicked out?

Iran’s place at the World Cup in Qatar is under threat due to the actions of their regime and their involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

Iran are due to compete with England, Wales and the USA in Group B with their first fixture scheduled to be against England on November 21.

However, there have been calls for the nation to be banned from Qatar 2022 due to the nation’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict with the Ukrainian FA appealing to FIFA for Iran to be kicked out of the World Cup in Qatar.

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Human Right groups have also called for a ban amid the ongoing tensions in the country spurred by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in Iranian security custody, with Iranian authorities announcing they will hold public trials for 1,000 people in the capital, Tehran, over the protests that have hit the country.

Will Iran be kicked out the World Cup?Will Iran be kicked out the World Cup?
Will Iran be kicked out the World Cup?

Morality police had detained Amini last month for not properly covering her hair with the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, which is mandatory for Iranian women. Amini collapsed at a police station and died three days later with her death being the catalyst for subsequent unrest.

We look at why Iran may be kicked out of the World Cup in Qatar. Here’s everything you need to know.

Ukraine submit call to FIFA to ban Iran from World Cup 2022

The Ukrainian Association of Football has called for Iran to be excluded from the World Cup in Qatar.

The UAF’s executive committee says it has made a request to global governing body FIFA to kick Iran out of the tournament, which starts on November 20, over what it describes as the country’s “systematic human rights violations” and “the possible involvement of Iran in the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine”.

The Ukrainian FA released a statement which called for Iran to be banned from Qatar 2022. It read: "Taking into account the UN security council resolution 22.31 regarding the imposition of sanctions on Iran, and the alleged involvement of Iran in the military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, we appeal to FIFA with a proposal to consider of excluding the Iranian national team from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”

Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin also called for Iran to be kicked out and replaced by Ukraine at this year's tournament tweeting: “While the Iranian leadership will have fun watching their national team play at the World Cup, Ukrainians will be killed by Iranian drones and Iranian missiles”

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Are Iran fighting in Ukraine?

Iran’s involvement in Ukraine – has seen a number of world leaders express concern and condemnation for their actions with Iran supplying Shahed drones in the conflict.

At the United Nations this week, Ukraine accused Iran of violating a Security Council ban on the transfer of drones capable of flying 180 miles. The UK, France and the US strongly back Ukraine’s contention that the drones were transferred to Russia and violate a 2015 UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal between Iran and six nations – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear activities and preventing the country from developing a nuclear weapon.

The White House has also said Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s power stations and other key infrastructure, with the British Government also stating that members of a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were dispatched to assist Russian forces in using the drones.

The US administration claimed it has troubling evidence of Tehran’s deepening role assisting Russia as it exacts suffering on Ukrainian civilians just as the cold weather sets in. The Russians in recent days have increasingly turned to the Iranian-supplied drones, as well as Kalibr and Iskander cruise missiles, to carry out a barrage of attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure and non-military targets.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Iran has sent a “relatively small number” of personnel to Crimea, a part of Ukraine unilaterally annexed by Russia in contravention of international law in 2014, to assist Russian troops in launching Iranian-made drones against Ukraine.

The US are considering following the UK in introducing sanctions to Iran to make it harder for them to sell weapons to Russia.

Announcing new sanctions over the use of Iranian drones in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Iran’s support for Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine is further proof of its destabilising role in global security.

“We are sanctioning the suppliers of drones used for the cowardly strikes on civilian targets and critical infrastructure in Ukraine.”

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The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said in a statement: “Despite denials from the Kremlin and Iranian Government, a Russian official has admitted Iran has supplied drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

“Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war is deplorable.

“The UK has sanctioned those involved.”

Qatar 2022: Could Iran be kicked out the World Cup?

An MP has said that FIFA should stop Iran from participating in the World Cup for its supply of weaponry for the Russian invasion of Ukraine – with others stating that the abuse of people at the hands of their government amid the unrest means they should also be banned. Iran’s response to the unrest has been widely condemned after tear gas and live rounds were used on protestors. Over 200 people, including at least 23 children, are believed to have been killed as a result.

Women are banned from attending football matches frequently – and games of late have been played behind closed doors, with no celebrations when goals are in scored incase such moves spark protests or political statements.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia said that Iran’s involvement in the World Cup should be looked at by FIFA due to the support they are providing Ukraine.

“Sporting authorities around the world and in every sport should be looking very carefully at Iran’s direct engagement and support for Putin in his illegal invasion of Ukraine. Dictatorial regimes relish sporting success. We should deny them that opportunity."

A group of Iranian football and sports personalities have sent a formal request to the body asking for it to suspend the Iranian Football Association.

An open letter read: "Iran's brutality and belligerence towards its own people has reached a tipping point, demanding an unequivocal and firm disassociation from the footballing and sports world," the group said.

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"Women have been consistently denied access to stadia across the country and systematically excluded from the football ecosystem in Iran, which sharply contrasts with Fifa's values and statutes.

"If women are not allowed into stadia across the country, and the Iranian Football Federation is simply following and enforcing governmental guidelines, they cannot be seen as an independent organisation and free from any form or kind of influence. This is a violation of (Article 19) of Fifa's statutes."

While no official ban on women entering sports grounds where men are playing is in place in Iran, they are frequently denied entry.

Who would replace Iran at Qatar 2022?

It is unclear who would replace the country if they receive a ban. The most likely nation would be the UAE after they were knocked out of the tournament at the play-off stage by Australia. They also finished third in Iran’s group.

It was rumoured that Italy would be the nation to benefit from a possible Iran expulsion with highest co-efficient in the world rankings taking their place, however, FIFA boss Gianni Infantino dismissed the idea.

Will FIFA kick Iran out the World Cup?

FIFA rules state that a nation’s football authorities cannot be run by the country’s government, nor should any minority be excluded from attending matches as a part of their values and statutes.

An open letter has been sent to FIFA, and similar sanctions were placed against Russia for qualifying following the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Both UEFA and FIFA removed Russia from all fixtures until "football can again be a vector for unity and peace" in a joint UEFA and FIFA statement that will further isolate Russia's sporting situation amid the invasion of Ukraine.

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"Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which envisaged the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice," read the statement.

"These decisions were adopted today by the Bureau of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters.

"Football is fully united and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both presidents hope that the situation will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people."

It is now up to FIFA to decide whether their team represents the views of the government.