Iranian-born German soccer player, Ashkan Dejagah, is refusing to participate in a championship qualifier match between the German team and Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv. He is claiming 'personal reasons', but a local tabloid quoted Dejagah as saying the reason was cultural:
"I have more Iranian than German blood in my veins," he said in a report published Tuesday. "That should be respected, and besides I'm doing this out of respect. My parents are Iranian."
Dejagah was born in Tehran, but later moved with his parents to Germany. He holds a German passport.
Iranian citizens have been forbidden from traveling to Israel ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the point from which Iran also began to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.
If some Iranians are incapable setting aside differences for a soccer game, I don't expect we'll see peace in the Middle East anytime soon.