Alireza Karimi in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Wikicommons) (Wikicommons)
Alireza Karimi

“Both wrestler and coach were found to have acted in direct violation of the International Wrestling Rules and the UWW Disciplinary Regulations,” the sanctioning body stated.

By: United with Israel Staff

A Muslim wrestler from Iran, who was instructed by his coach to lose a match in order to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, was penalized.

Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi-Machiani in November threw a match against his Russian opponent at a tournament in Poland in order to avoid facing Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov in the next round.

On Friday, the United World Wrestling Disciplinary Chamber banned him from competition for six months, and banned his coach Hamidreza Jamshidi for two years.

“Both wrestler and coach were found to have acted in direct violation of the International Wrestling Rules and the UWW Disciplinary Regulations,” the UWW stated.

The Iranian government was quick to praise Karimi-Mashiani.

“Your noble and heroic action in the world competition in Poland, abandoning the medal and the podium in support of the highest human values, is a source of pride and praise,” said a statement on the website of Iran’s Ministry of Sport and Youth.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed sympathy for Karimi-Machiani saying wrestlers should “compete like hell, shake hands and go out for a drink.”

Iran’s hostility towards the Jewish state can be summed up in one word, “Alireza,” Netanyahu said in November.

“Alireza, I want you to know that the tyrants who made you take a fall will fall themselves. A regime that crushes the creative and competitive spirits of its people—that regime is doomed,” he added.

“So are those who threaten to destroy the Jewish state. They’ll go down for the count,” he concluded.

Iran, which calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, has long refused to engage in sports competitions against Israelis.

Last February, Iranian karate athlete Majid Hassaninia refused to compete against an Israeli opponent at the 21st Open de Paris – Karate Premier League in France.

For years, Israeli athletes have faced boycotts, snubs and logistical hurdles in sporting events involving Arab and Muslim countries.