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German Jews: Drop Iranian-born soccer player who won’t play in Israel


By —— Bio and Archives--October 10, 2007

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By Assaf Uni (Berlin) and Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondents and Reuters
Germany’s leading Jewish organization has called for an Iranian-born player to be dropped from Germany’s under-21 national soccer team for withdrawing from an upcoming match against Israel.

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Ashkan Dejagah, 21, who plays for Bundesliga club VfB Wolfsburg, asked national team managers to allow him to withdraw from Germany’s European Championship qualifier against Israel, to be played in Tel Aviv on Friday.

He cited “personal reasons” for his decision, the German Football Association (DFB) said Monday. But the tabloid daily Bild quoted him as saying his motive was political. “He came to us citing personal reasons that seemed very plausible,” DFB spokesman Jens Grittner said.
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On Tuesday, the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the DFB’s decision to accept Dejagah’s request and demanded that the player be sanctioned.

“It would be an affront to silently tolerate this behavior,” Council President Charlotte Knobloch said in a statement. “I therefore expect that the DFB will exclude the player from the German national team.”

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