Fri, 25 Sep 2020

Dozens of angry fans of Iran's famous Esteghlal soccer team stormed the offices of their club in the Iranian capital on December 9 and beat up a club official to protest the departure of Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni.

Local media reported that a few hundred soccer fans gathered outside Esteghlal's grounds in Tehran to express their anger over Stramaccioni's exit while blaming authorities for the decision. Police were called in to restore the peace, reports said.

Stramaccioni announced on December 8 that he had terminated his contract with the club over repeated missed payments reportedly caused by U.S. financial sanctions which ban Iranian banks from transferring money to and from the Islamic republic.

Esteghlal's managers had been reportedly forced to pay Stramaccioni through third parties.

In a brief statement published by Iranian news sites, Stramaccioni thanked Esteghlal's players and their fans while expressing hope that he will be able to return in the future.

"With a heart broken I was forced to leave hoping to be together again one day in the future," Stramaccioni was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.

The 43-year-old coach, who had signed a two-year contract with Esteghlal in June, was reported to have left Iran with his staff early on December 9.

The United States exited a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions that have added to Iran's economic woes.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda, BBC, ISNA, Tasnim, Mehr, and

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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