Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Iran forcing their wrestler to lose a bout in order to avoid competing against an Israeli perfectly summed up the regime’s hostility to the Jewish state.
In November, wrestler Iranian Alireza Karimi-Mashiani was forced by his coach to throw his bout at the World Championships in Poland, tournament because Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov would have been his second-round opponent.
“Close your eyes and think about Alireza for a moment. He trained countless hours; he dreamed of becoming a world champion. But the Iranian regime would rather see its athletes lose than compete against Israelis,” Netanyahu said in a video released on the prime minister’s Facebook page.
Netanyahu called on the Iranian people to use social media to foster coexistence.
“I want you to film yourself playing a sport against someone of a different nationality, a different faith or different color. I want you to compete like hell – we’re all for competition,” Netanyahu said. “Then I want you to shake hands, go out for a drink together, and then upload this to the social media. I want you to show Iran’s regime that hating others will never make you a champion. It only makes you a pathetic and insecure loser.”
The Islamic Republic does not recognise the Jewish state, calling it the “Little Satan” — the United States is the “Great Satan” — and forbids its sportsmen from competing against Israelis.
The prime minister also said it was intolerable for a country to boycott another country in sport. “Just imagine, a government forbidding its athletes from competing against blacks, gays or Arabs,” he said.
The wrestler himself has acknowledged he was ordered to throw the fight and was very unhappy about it.
“In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end,” he said.