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Iran’s national soccer team plunges in latest FIFA rankings

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Iran men's national football team (file photo)

The Iran men's national football team, domestically known as Team Melli, has dropped in the latest edition of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings, losing its supremacy in the Asian continent.

According to the latest monthly rankings released by the world’s soccer governing body, Team Melli collected 708 points to move down one place and land in the 37th spot in the world. Therefore, the Iranian outfit ceded the title as the top soccer outfit in Asia.

The Australia football team, nicknamed Socceroos, accumulated 718 points to climb four slots in the latest FIFA rankings. It sat in the 36th place and leapfrogged Iran to become the top-ranked Asian squad.

Other Asian squads included South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia, which claimed the 57th, 61st and 67th spots respectively with 544, 521 and 465 points.

Germany remains the top-ranked soccer team in the world, with 1,558 points.

Brazil earned 1,431 points to claim the second position, while third-place Belgium garnered 1,298 points.

Portugal also maintained its position in the world rankings and stood fourth with 1,274 points.

Team Melli could have upheld its position as the best Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member in the latest FIFA rankings in case it had defeated either Greece or Kosovo in a pre-FIFA World Cup warm-up match. Both countries, however, withdrew from the exhibition game.

Last week, the Hellenic Football Federation (HFF), also known as the Greek Football Federation, unilaterally cancelled a friendly between Iran and Greece as part of preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The match had been slated for June 2 in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) strongly condemned the move, and announced suspension of relations with its Greek counterpart.

HFF President Evangelos Grammenos had reportedly told sports officials in Iran that Greece would not be traveling to Turkey, and instead invited them to play the match at the multi-purpose Nea Smyrni Stadium in Athens.

The FFIRI officials strongly rejected the offer as a trip to Greece did not fit with their World Cup warm-up preparations, and secondly Iran, as a Muslim country, could not play in a match in which main sponsors of the opposite side were from the betting and alcohol industries.

The Iranian football federation sought to face Kosovo in Istanbul after the scheduled friendly against Greece was canceled, but to no avail.

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