Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi reportedly threw a match at the Senior U23 World Championship tournament in Poland on November 26 to avoid facing his Israeli opponent, Uri Kalashnikov, in the next round.
Karimi, who was ahead of Russia’s Alikhan Zhabrailov 3-2, intentionally allowed his opponent to execute a series of costly “reversal” and “exposure” maneuvers to win the match, according to the reports.
Karimi, who was the favorite to win the gold medal in his weight group, told ISNA [Iranian Students News Agency] on Monday that he threw the match after being instructed by his coaches who had shouted “Alireza, lose!” from the mat-side.
It is unclear if the United World Wrestling (UWW) federation will take any disciplinary action against Karimi. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iranian wrestlers have repeatedly been penalized by the UMM for refusing to face Israeli opponents.
Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, professional footballers who play for the Greek club Panionios F.C., were chastised by the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran for taking part in a match against Maccabi Tel Aviv F.C. in the summer of 2017. While Hajsafi apologized to the authorities afterwards, Shojaei remained defiant, and was subsequently eliminated from the Iranian National Football team.
Karimi expressed his anger at being coerced into throwing the match in an Instagram post which included the title of Dariush Eqbali’s well-known song: “Silence is the Final Trench” and the first line of the song: “They can’t take away our rights.”