Reuters: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avid soccer fan, is not expected to attend his country’s World Cup match against Portugal in Frankfurt on Saturday, local police said. By Peter Starck
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avid soccer fan, is not expected to attend his country’s World Cup match against Portugal in Frankfurt on Saturday, local police said.
“Ahmadinejad is not supposed to be here,” Frankfurt police spokesman Peter Freier told a news conference on Friday.
Some German politicians have said Ahmadinejad would not be welcome in Germany after he questioned whether the Holocaust happened and because of his calls for Israel’s destruction.
Some 1,000 people, among them Israel supporters and exiled Iranians, demonstrated in Nuremberg in connection with Iran’s opening World Cup match against Mexico on last Sunday.
Ahmadinejad, whose country is also at odds with the West over its nuclear programme, was in China on Friday as an observer at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a Central Asian security group.
Mohammad Aliabadi, one of Iran’s seven vice presidents and responsible for sport policy, is with the national team in Germany and will be at Frankfurt’s Waldstadion on Saturday, city officials said.
Similar rallies as those held in Nuremberg are planned in Frankfurt. Freier said 50-70 people were expected to attend a demonstration called by human rights groups against what they see as human rights violations in Iran.
Between 500 and 1,000 people are expected to join another anti-Iran demonstration to be staged by various groups under a “Friends of Israel” umbrella, the Frankfurt police spokesman said.
Police have denied an application by the far-right extremist National Democratic Party (NPD) to demonstrate in Frankfurt on Saturday, he added.
NPD supporters, many sporting shaved heads and black clothes, chanted “Solidarity with Iran” and “foreigners out” during a June 10 march through Gelsenkirchen, a city strongly associated with the heavily subsidised coal-mining industry in northwestern Germany.
The German state of Hessen, where Frankfurt is located, employs more than 15,000 police, Freier said, adding that “all of them” could be called upon to help maintain law and order.
He declined to say how many officers would be on duty in Frankfurt on Saturday, but said there would be enough police to cope with any situation.
Winfried Nass, a FIFA organising committee official in charge of stadium security, said the Frankfurt stadium was sold out for Saturday’s match.
It was hard to estimate how many Iranian supporters would be in the stands but it could be a big number because of the many people originally from Iran who nowadays hold German passports, he said. Over 65,000 Iranians live in Germany.
Iran lost their opening Group D match 3-1 to Mexico while Portugal beat Angola 1-0. Iran’s last Group D match is in Leipzig against Angola on June 21.