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Tehran diplomats football team in effort to promote people-to-people friendship - 17 November 2013

Diplomats vs. MFA 09football-thumbsOn 17 November 2013 a friendly charity match was organized at Azadi Stadium between Tehran based Diplomats and Ambassadors and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Today, football is not only a sport, but the shining players are countries' peace ambassadors to football fields," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a meeting held in Tehran with the President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Joseph Sepp Blatter.


From left to right: Mr. Ali Reza Mansourian, former Iranian national football team player and Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator of the Tehran Diplomats team

In the same spirit, the Tehran-based Diplomats football team is trying to use sports to build friendships and forge amicable relations with Iranians from all walks of life.

The team – which is represented by fifteen different nationalities, many of them Ambassadors – is taking part in two football events this week in Tehran. The first took place this afternoon in the world-famous Azadi Stadium grounds. It was a friendly charity match against Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The theme of the match was "Unity for Peace."


Ambassador of Norway, H. E. Jens Petter Kjemprud shaking hands
after the game ends with Mr. Ali Reza Mansourian,
former Iranian national football team player

After congratulating the Iranian national team for qualifying to the 2014 Brazil World Cup, Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and the captain of the Tehran Diplomats team, stated the following:

"We are about football, we are about that universal language – that beautiful language of football – which promotes friendship, and ultimately – through people-to-people contact we hope to have a positive impact on the way in which the international community is engaging with the Islamic Republic of Iran."

He added: Diplomats vs. MFA 03Former Iranian national goalkeeper, Vahid Taleblo warming up before the friendly charity match between Tehran based Diplomats and Ministry of Foreign Affairs "We are doing this in our own professional work – as diplomats every day – but football allows us a personal dimension to contribute in our own modest way to the very enormous positive changes we see happening."


Mr. Gary Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator and
the captain of the Tehran Diplomats team

Former Iranian football players including Mohammad Hasan Ansarifard and Afshin Peyrovani joined the cause by symbolically coaching the two teams while other players including Vahid Taleblo, Reza Shahroudi, Ali Reza Mansourian, Mehdi Tartar, among others, played as guest stars – setting a great example especially for the number of young players who were watching the game.


Former Iranian national goalkeeper, Vahid Taleblo warming up
before the friendly charity match between Tehran based Diplomats
and Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs team won the closely-contested match 5-4. “Our aim was not necessarily to win," Lewis said, “it was to unite people in a love of sport."


A friendly charity football match was held at world-famous Azadi Stadium
on 17 November 2013 between Tehran based Diplomats and Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Another friendly competition will take place later this week at the Shahid Beheshti University grounds on Tuesday afternoon (19 Nov) and then Thursday afternoon (21 Nov). This competition is organized in a round-robin format. Teams competing will be from the Tehran media, the Tehran actors, Congress 60 (a team comprised of former drug users who are now fully rehabilitated) and the Tehran Diplomats.


Members of Ministry of Foreign Affairs team including Ali Reza Mansourian (Front row, left).

Members of Tehran based Diplomats, represented by fifteen different nationalities.
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