BERLIN, Oct 8 (Reuters) - An Iranian-born player in Germany's
under-21 national soccer team has withdrawn from an upcoming match
against Israel citing "personal reasons", the German Football
Association (DFB) said on Monday.
Ashkan Dejagah, 21, who
plays for Bundesliga club VfB Wolfsburg, asked national team managers
to allow him to withdraw from Germany's European Championship qualifier
against Israel, to be played in Tel Aviv on Friday, the DFB said.
"He came to us citing personal reasons that seemed very plausible," DFB spokesman Jens Grittner said.
Dejagah could not be reached for comment, but tabloid daily Bild quoted him as saying his motive was political.
"It has political reasons. Everyone knows that I am German-Iranian," he said of the decision to withdraw.
the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has refused to recognize Israel's
right to exist and Iranian citizens are forbidden from travelling to
Dejagah was born in Tehran, but later moved with his parents to Germany. He holds a German passport.
withdrawal has stirred controversy in Germany, which sets great store
by good relations with Israel after some six million Jews died during
Bild, Germany's biggest-selling newspaper, called for Dejagah's exclusion from the national team.
call was backed by Friedbert Pflueger, a leading member of the Berlin
branch of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats
In 2004, Iranian striker Vahid Hashemian was pulled
from Bayern Munich's roster for a Champions League game against Israeli
team Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Although Bayern cited a back injury
as the reason for Hashemian's withdrawal, the potential visit proved
controversial and Iran's national sporting body opposed it.
I for one support his decision. Why should he play against a country that is pushing Washington to nuke us?!??!?!
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