Football in Iran
Football in Iran is quite possibly the most popular sport, with only wrestling being able to match its popularity. Football has been a part of life for Iranians for many decades now and is played in schools, alleys, streets and football clubs nationwide.
History of football in Iran
Football was an unknown sport in Iran until British sailors and workers introduced the game in 1907. At that time they were working at port cities Bushire, Khorramshahr, Bandar Abbas and major oil refineries such as Masjed Soleiman in the province of Khuzestan. The British played among themselves at first, as 22 men in shorts chasing after a plastic ball seemed to be more of a joke than a game to Iranians. The skepticism was short-lived and eventually the Iranian workers started playing as well.
1907 was the year that British Ambassador in Tehran by the name of Cecil Spring-Rice founded Iran's first Footbal Tournament which had only 3 teams Embassy of Great Britain,Imperial Bank of Persia and Indo-European Telegraph Company.
In the same year, Tehran Football Association Club, an organising body for arranging football matches was established.
However all teams were made up of British residents of Tehran, although when teams didn't have enough players they sometimes
chose Iranian bystanders to come on the field and play. The first Iranian player was Karim Zandi who played from 1908 to 1916.
He was the reason other Iranians became motivated and interested in the sport. It became every young Iranian's dream to play alongside these
British residents of Tehran. All matches were played at around Mashq Square.
In 1910 Dr. Samuel M. Jordan, the principal of American School (currently known as Alborz High School) in Tehran, introduced football as part of the school's curriculum.
Four years later 1914, start of World War One put an end to these football matches and football programs.
Then in 1918 football matches recommenced and 1920 saw the establishment of Iran's first football club called Iran Club. The squad consisted of
Karim Zandi, Khan-Salar brothers, Amir-Aslani brothers, Mohammad Ali Shokooh, Azizollah Afkkhami,
Reza Kalantar, Sheybani, Hasan Meftah, Herand, Galustyan, Khajeh-Noori, Reza Rabizadeh,Hambarson,Ashrafi.
These group of players won the Tehran Association Cup in 1923. In the same year
a new club was established called Tehran Club, this followed by creation of Armenian Sports Club and Toofan Club, and in 1925 Tehran Club reached the final and defeated British Select Team of Tehran 2-1.
In 1925 Tehran XI
traveled across the border to Baku, USSR, this was the first away football match for an Iranian team. This Tehran Select team is the predessor of Iran's national football team.
The results were as follow:
Tehran XI 0 Baku XI 2
Tehran XI 0 Baku Faculty of Petroleum 0
Tehran XI 1 Kolony Baku 4
After this Football started becoming more popular and more clubs were founded such as Tehran Pars F.C. and Kian F.C.. Some footballers even moved abroad such as Hossein Sadaghiani and Khan-Salar brothers who played in Belgian Football Leagues. Hossein Sadaghiani for instance after returning to Iran from Europe, became active in sharing the knowledge of the game and also with growth of football, he coached football teams of University of Tehran and Ferdowsi University of Mashad.
Teams from Khuzestan were always the most successful was the powerhouse the 50's and early 60's, but the game had become very popular in Iran by then. Tehran slowly started becoming the football capital of Iran, and numerous great clubs emerged from there. Shahin FC, Oghab FC, and Taj, were all Tehran teams established in the mid 1940's which even to this day have a great following.
As the number of club teams increased the need for a national league became apparent, and ever since 1960, with the exception of a few years, a nationwide football league has existed in Iran. The Takhte Jamshid Cup, Azadegan League and the IPL being the most important ones.
The very first match that the Iranian national football team played was on January 1, 1941 away at Afghanistan. The first two decades of international football for Iran was uneventful, but the 60's and 70's was when Iran established itself as one of Asia's top sides. They won the Asian Cup in 1968, 1972 and 1976, the 1974 Asian Games football tournament, qualified for the 1964,1972,1976 and 1980 Olympic Games and most importantly qualified for World Cup 1978 in Argentina.
The Iranian Revolution and the IranIraq War soon occurred and football was downplayed, but the national team has made a comeback in recent years, qualifying for the 1998 Football World Cup and recording their first win ever in World Cup (against the United States) and also qualifying for the 2006 tournament in Germany.
The league and national team are administrated by the Iranian FA known as the I.R.I.F.F. The I.R.I.F.F has also been a member of FIFA since 1945 and the Asian Football Confederation since 1958.The Federation receives most of its budget from the Iranian government's Physical Education Department, and also from sponsorships with various companies.
Azadi Stadium, Tehran
Ali Daei Stadium, Ardebil
Dr. Azodi Stadium, Rasht
Bagh Shomal Stadium, Tabriz
Enghelab Stadium, Karaj
Foolad Shahr Stadium, Isfahan
Hafezieh Stadium, Shiraz
Iran Khodro Stadium, Karaj
Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium, Isfahan
Nassiri Stadium, Yazd
Rah Ahan Stadium, Tehran
Samen Stadium, Mashhad
Shahid Dastgerdi Stadium, Tehran
Shahid Shiroudi Stadium, Tehran
Shiroudi Stadium, Karaj
Shohada Stadium, Noshahr
Takhti Stadium, Abadan
Takhti Stadium, Ahvaz
Takhti Stadium, Bandar-e Anzali
Takhti Stadium, Tehran
Yadegar-e-Emam Stadium, Tabriz
Shahid Salemikia, Kerman
Shahid Bahonar, Kerman
Azadegan League (Post 2001)
Football around the world
Futsal in Iran
Iran national football team
Iran national futsal team
List of football clubs in Iran
List of ex-pat Iranian football clubs
Women's Football in Iran
Sports in Iran