Soccer / Iranian-German Blames No-show in Israel on Passport

Germany's national under-21 player of Iranian origin this weekend defended his decision not to join the team for its match in Israel, saying the reason he didn't make the trip was his Iranian passport. Ashkan Dejagah told German weekly Stern that "according to the law in Tehran, they would put me in jail with a passport stamp from Israel." He added, "Besides that, no one knows what they do with Iranians in Israel."

The Wolfburg striker said that he explained this to coach Dieter Eilts and "he understood my considerations."

Despite previous declarations, Dejagah was not suspended from the team and Eilts hinted that he would likely return to the squad. His status will be determined after a conversation with German soccer federation chair Theo Zwanziger. "I am a man of peace, and it's the message I bring with me," said Dejagah. "It's illogical that because of a thing like this, I wouldn't play any more for my country."

When asked why he didn't say he was injured like forward Vahid Hashemian did in 2005 when his team Bayern Munich played Maccabi Tel Aviv, he answered, "I couldn't fake an injury. It's not me. I think I paid enough of a price for my fairness."