Dienstag, 11. Dezember 2007

Soccer in Iran

The roots of football have been sought in the ancient civilizations of China and South America though not in
ancient Iran, where chogan has been played for thousands of years.
The playing field of chogan with a goal post at each end and its general concept of two rival teams trying to score against each other is no different to that of football.
However what is different is that players in chogan compete on horseback using a special stick to run, pass and shoot the ball, a game that is widely known today as polo.
Soccer in Iran dates back to the early 20th century when early British oil prospectors introduced the game to Bakhtiari tribesman in the south-west of the country.
Its first governing body, now known as the Iran Football Federation, was established in 1920 and joined the Asian football confederation in 1958 and became a member of FIFA in 1945. However, no major national club competitions were held in Iran until the 1970s.

Clubs & Competitions
Clubs actually began to form in Iran in the 1940s and 50s. Teams such as Sarbaz (Soldier), Toofan (Typhoon), Darayi (Wealth) and Kian (Kings) have not appeared in competitions for many years while major old clubs like the populist Shahin (Eagle) and the royalist Taj (Crown) have undergone many changes.

The school of Shahin founded by the late Dr. Abbas Ekrami, stressed the importance of education alongside football and produced some of the most legendary stars of Iranian football. The club was later dissolved due to a bitter rivalry with Taj which in turn had also produced some of the countrys best players.

The Shahin squad then formed Paikan (Arrow) before laying the foundations of Persepolis, renamed Pirouzi (Victory) after the 1979 revolution, but is still called Persepolis by both supporters and the sports press.
Both Shahin and Paikan were revived during the post revolution years while Taj was renamed Esteghlal (Independence).

The close rivalries between Shahin and Taj in the early years, later evolved into Iran's major derby between the reds of Persepolis and the blues of Taj (later Esteghlal), drawing at times about 120,000 fans to the stadium and ranking amongst worlds top derbies.

Other major clubs in Iran that have league championship titles are Pas and Saipa. During the last several years following the launch of Iran's professional league, clubs from outside Tehran like Sepahan from Isfahan and Foolad from the talent rich Khuzestan province have also won Iran's premier league championship title. On the continental front, Taj (1970) and later Esteghlal (1990), Persepolis (1990) and Pas (1992) have all been crowned as the Asian club champions.

The first Takht-e Jamshid Cup, named after the ancient ruins of Persepolis, was held in 1970 and, fittingly, was won by the Tehran club, Persepolis (renamed Pirouzi after 1979). The league was held annually until it had to be abandoned in mid-tournament in 1978 due to the Iranian Revolution.
An eight-year war with Iraq and political upheavals left Iran without major club competitions until 1989 when the Qods League was established. A year later, the Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League after the prisoners of war freed after the conflict with Iraq. The Azadegan League was dominated by teams from Tehran, especially Esteghlal and Pirouzi.

The 2000-2001 season saw the establishment of the Iranian Premier League (IPL), Iran's first professional football league. In the period since its foundation, players salaries have risen and teams from outside Tehran such as Foulad, Sepahan, Zobahan, have shown that they can compete with the best that the capital has to offer.
Iran, with a population of 68 million, now has an estimated 50 million football fans. With an increasingly professional domestic league and a steadily gathering international presence, Iranian football is on an upward curve.

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