The president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation, who is also a U.S. green card holder, called for “death to America” in an interview clip that aired on Wednesday ahead of a Feb. 12 wrestling match between the U.S. and Iranian national teams in Arlington, Texas.
In the interview, Iranian Wrestling Federation president Alireza Dabir said,
“More important than the slogan of death to the US is to act on it.”
Sardar Pashaei, the Iranian-American former head coach of Iran’s national Greco-Roman wrestling team, tweeted a video of Iranian Wrestling Federation Alireza Dabir as he shared his “death to America remarks.
Pashaei tweeted, “The Iranian Wrestling Federation is going to the United States to participate in the Iran-US friendship match, with the slogan ‘Death to America.'”
According to a translation of his remarks, Dabir said, “We always chant ‘Death to America.’ More importantly is showing it in action.”
“Some talk a lot but don’t do much,” Dabir continued. “We need to prove it to the world with an action.
Reacting to Dabir’s remarks, Pashaei told Fox News, “It’s painful for me as a wrestler and national team coach to listen to these words, when I and many other athletes who have been forced to leave their homeland due to pressure from the Iranian government see Alireza Dabir, the president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation, say ‘Death to America’ while he has a U.S. green card in his pocket.”
During his interview with Fox News, Pashaei also noted Iran has arrested, tortured and even executed Iranian wrestlers who have spoken out against the Iranian regime, including Navid Afkari. Pashaei oversees the United for Navid campaign, which memorializes and calls for justice for Afkari, who was executed in Iran in 2020.
The U.S. has sanctioned the Iranian officials linked to Afkari’s death.
Pashaei said, “Why should someone [Dabir] who has been one of the athletes very close to the Iranian government in all the past years and part of the government’s propaganda be able to travel freely to the United States?”
As of Monday, calls have grown for Dabir and other athletes on the Iranian wrestling team to be barred from entering the U.S. The Jerusalem Post reported United For Navid has been a prominent voice in calls for USA Wrestling to cancel the Feb. 12 match between the U.S. and Iran.
“On behalf of thousands of Iranian athletes we urge you to refrain from inviting Iranian government-sponsored athletes as long as the government tortures and executes athletes, deprives women of participation in competitions, and chants ‘Death to America’ in their media,” Pashaei said, on behalf of the organization. Refrain from inviting officials and athletes who are government propaganda tools that are anti-women and anti-American.”