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Ghotbi denied Iranian visa
Iran denies South Korea's Iranian coach an entry visa.
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2006 12:48 GMT

Coach Ghotbi: No happy homecoming

South Korea have suffered a setback ahead of their Asian Cup qualifying match against Iran with assistant coach Afshin Ghotbi being refused a visa to enter his homeland.

The Iranian-American assistant coach of Korea is believed to have been rejected for an entry visa because he holds US citizenship.

"The Iranian embassy in Seoul notified us that a visa for Ghotbi was not issued, without giving a specific reason for it," said Lee Won-Jae, a spokesman for the Korea Football Association.
  
"They said they have no choice but to comply with guidelines from their home country."

Ghotbi then travelled with the team to Dubai and had hoped to get a visa there.  
  
"If he is unable to enter Iran in the end, we will have to consider protesting to the Asia Football Confederation," Lee said.
  
Ghotbi was born in Iran, but left aged 13 in 1997 during the reign of the Shah to get US citizenship and two years prior to the country's Islamic revolution.
  
"I am disappointed, to say the least," he told reporters.
  
"I was looking forward to returning to my homeland. We always hope that politics and football are separated, but in some parts of the world, that's not the case.
  
"I hope FIFA takes action against the Iranian Football Federation, as I feel that it was responsible for me not being able to sit on the bench and do my job."
  
The team is scheduled to arrive in Tehran Wednesday for a qualifier against Iran the following day for the four-yearly Asian Cup finals next July.

Both teams have already qualified for the Asian Cup and Korean head coach Pim Verbeek will use the match as a warm-up for the Asian Games.

Iran and the USA do not have diplomatic relations.

Source:
Al Jazeera + agencies
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