AFP: Iran has barred South Korean companies from sponsoring sporting events, including this weekend’s LG Cup football competition, in apparent punishment for Seoul’s
stance on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme. TEHRAN, Nov 7 (AFP) – Iran has barred South Korean companies from sponsoring sporting events, including this weekend’s LG Cup football competition, in apparent punishment for Seoul’s stance on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.
“From today, no competition will have a (South) Korean sponsor, and that goes for all sports federations,” the student agency ISNA quoted national sports official Mehdi Ghadami as saying.
The national sports body decided that Korean electronics giant LG “could not sponsor the matches and that another sponsor needs to be found”, Ghadami added.
LG, a high-profile company in Iran, has sponsored the annual four-nation friendly tournament for years.
This year’s competition is due to see the national teams of Iran, Macedonia, Paraguay and Togo compete on Friday and Saturday.
Iranian officials insisted that the competition would nevertheless go ahead under a different name.
“If the (football) federation doesn’t find a sponsor in time, it will pay out of its own pocket,” said Ghadami, insisting the new sponsor had to be “worthy of Iran”.
It was not immediately clear how much the sponsorship deal was worth, although the cup’s winners take home 50,000 dollars, the runners-up 30,000 dollars and third place 20,000 dollars.
The move is seen as punishment for Seoul’s decision to vote in favour of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution in September that paved the way for Tehran to be brought before the UN Security Council over its controversial nuclear programme.
Washington accuses the Islamic republic of developing a nuclear bomb under cover of a civilian nuclear programme, charges strenuously denied by Iran.
Goods from South Korea and Britain, which co-sponsored the IAEA resolution, are already the subject of an unofficial boycott in Iran.
Iran has in the past used sport as a political tool, playing up their win over arch-foe the United States in the 1998 football World Cup Finals while an Iranian judo competitor at last year’s Athens Olympics refused to compete against an opponent from Israel, the Islamic republic’s other arch-enemy.
The now nameless but still lucrative cup will see Iran play Macedonia and Paraguay to take on Togo on Friday, with the two winners meeting in a final on Saturday.