In recent years, Iranian citizens from different walks of life have regularly taken to the streets to openly voice their protests against the ruling regime and high-ranking officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Ebrahim Raisi, and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.

Speaking to the semiofficial Eslahat News, affiliated with the ‘reformist’ faction, on July 3, former President of the Iranian Football Federation and former soccer player Mohammad Dadkan pointed to public hatred against the entire ruling system.

“One day, declare that those who don’t want you to come to the streets, and look what happens. You also come onto the streets,” he said.

On July 5, former athletes declared their candidacy for the Football Federation Presidency. The state-run media raised Dadkan’s name as a potential option for the seat. However, observers believe that officials have crossed off his name due to his explicit criticism, and his support for Voria Ghafouri, the former Esteghlal FC captain.

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Dadkan said, “Regarding Mr. Ghafouri, I should say that he neither said anything, nor breached a rule, nor acted against religion. What he said was in favor of his people and his beliefs. He says that the people are under pressure, particularly his fellow citizens in Kurdistan province. They cannot make ends meet. What’s the problem? I said such words time and again. Esteghlal club should not easily say, ‘we no longer want Mr. Voria Ghafouri.’”

Based on his experience and background, Dadkan explained that Esteghlal FC refused to extend Ghafouri’s contract due to pressure from the regime’s top officials. “[Officials] say everyone should remain silent. When they pressure players, they say we are no longer in,” he stated.

In a recent impartial survey, more than 90 percent of football fans supported Dadkan to take control of Iran’s football federation. In response, Dadkan said, “This is due to people’s kindness. They say, but the circumstances are not ready; otherwise, I’ve gained more experience compared to the past, and I can lead better.”

He added, “However, you should pack up your stuff and go when you see officials’ favorite individuals and candidates. I’d like you to ask them if you can earn 500 million? What’s your management record and which entity did you run? Have you been successful?”

Dadkan also blamed the current Football Federation President Mirshad Majedi for ignorance in regard to a scheduled friendly match with Russia in August, stating, “Who does not know what’s going on in his department? He should be ousted from the office.”

He expressed, “Why should we have a match with Russia and accept pressure when the world sided with Ukraine? Why should we pave the path for other countries to blame us? Does the president know what’s happening? Or does he merely want to register the federation presidency in his résumé?”

“[The federation president] should say: ‘no’ when officials arrange such a match. ‘I’m the chief; I say the final word,’ he should say,” Dadkan vehemently criticized both the government and the federation president. “I would never be a candidate because these [officials] don’t want me. I will never ask Sports Ministry officials and National Olympic Committee chiefs to endorse or give me the seat.”

Dadkan slammed the regime’s mullahs for their so-called religious restrictions, saying, “We did not revolt against the monarchic dictatorship to convert people to Islam. Those who were Muslims still obey their beliefs. We revolted to enjoy welfare, equality, justice, and freedom. Let’s see, have we really provided these for people? No need for the mullahs to teach religion to the people. The people obey Islamic rituals more than the mullahs.”

Remarkably, Dadkan has served the theocracy for years. However, the government’s mismanagement and failures have led this former official to publicly express his anger over the Islamic Republic regime’s misery, corruption, nepotism, and oppression. This is, of course, an instance of volcanic conditions in Iran where the people, and even the government’s former allies, no longer cover up their objections, and rather seek fundamental changes for a better future. As they say, when the ship is sinking, the rats are first to jump off.

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