ACL 2021 -- Persepolis FC apologize for distasteful Instagram post

CONTROVERSIES SURROUNDING Persepolis FC's AFC Champions League 2021 campaign, scheduled to to begin tomorrow, have still not ceased.

Firstly, there was the issue of a delay in the paperwork for the landing permit for their chartered flight that caused a delay in the team's travel to Goa. The club caused a stir when it reacted by issuing a statement on its official website and social media that accused 'Indian authorities' of 'host sabotage.'

But that's not the only contentious statement from the club that caused controversy. Shortly afterwards, a distasteful post was published by the official Instagram account of the club, comparing their upcoming ACL campaign with the invasion of India by Nader Shah, the Persian emperor, in the 18th century.

The controversial Instagram post

The reference to the invasion is in particularly poor taste because of the bloodshed it caused. The Shah's widespread plunder during his invasion (estimated to be more than 100 billion US dollars in today's money) led to mass riots where civilians attacked and killed soldiers of the occupying army. In response, Nader Shah issued an order to orchestrate a genocide in Delhi. On 22nd March 1739, the soldiers carried out a massacre of almost 30,000 men, women & children, while another 10,000 women and children were captured and taken back to Persia as slaves.

After the post glorifying this mass killing caused wide criticism, it was deleted, and earlier today the club issued an apology on their Instagram page, saying the post was "uncoordinated" and posted on their account "without obtaining permission from the club management." The person responsible for this post "will be punished and severely reprimanded", the statement added.

The full statement, translated from Persian to English using Google Translate, is given here:

"Iran and India; Proximity to culture and historical brotherhood

According to the official media of Persepolis Club, the reddest Asian football team will travel to India and the beautiful island of Goa to hold the 2021 Champions League and will experience different days.

The relationship between Iran and India is not related to today and yesterday and is rooted in history. The two countries with a common civilization, culture and feeling that have always had a sincere relationship throughout history, and respect between the people of the two nations, is world famous.

On the day that the Persepolis convoy left the skies of Iran for India to record new successes, a post was published on the club's Instagram page that this incident was uncoordinated, and for this reason, we know it is our duty to apologize for what happened. This issue has nothing to do with the club, and for a person who publishes a post without obtaining permission from the club management, he will be punished and severely reprimanded.

Football is an excuse for the people of the world to get closer to each other. Undoubtedly, the teams are fighting on the field to win, but outside the green rectangle, we are all looking for peace and friendship. Even on the day that India was selected to host the fifth group of the tournament, Jafar Samiei, CEO of Iran's Persepolis Club, in an interview, called it an opportunity to build empathy, promote peace and experience peace, and praised India's hosting. The close culture of Iran and India is a space to increase friendships and what better excuse than football. Persepolis, as the proud representative of Iran, pursues great goals in India; Efforts to gain ground and continue efforts to raise the banner of peace and friendship alongside other nations.

The stay of the whites in India and the coast of Goa continues and we hope that Persepolis of Iran will be able to leave sweet memories in this period of the tournament."

These completely avoidable statements have stirred unnecessary controversies surrounding the club's upcoming campaign, which is set to kick off tomorrow with a match against UAE's Al Wahda FC at 8 pm IST. Hopefully, now that the club has chosen to course-correct, the bad taste can stop being a distraction and the fans' attention can finally move to the actual competition that's set to play out over the next two weeks.

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