By Haaretz Service
A senior official in the Iranian Football Federation (FFI) was urged to resign on Saturday after a New Year's greeting email was apparently sent on his behalf to his counterparts in Israel, the Iranian Fars news agency reported.
Mohammad-Manour Azimzadeh, the head of the FFI foreign relations' office, resigned after a mass New Year's greeting email sent by the FFI reportedly ended up with the football federation of Israel, Iran's arch-foe.
The FFI said in a statement that the emails are sent every year worldwide to all member federations of the world football governing body FIFA, "except the football federation of the Zionist regime" which has been deleted by the FFI from the mailing list.
The statement however said that a FIFA employee - apparently an Israeli of Iranian descent - had forwarded the Iranian greeting message to the Israeli federation as well.
The FFI said that Azimzadeh submitted his resignation in light of the incident.
Iran does not acknowledge the sovereignty of Israel and even Iranian athletes are in no way allowed to compete against Israeli teams in international tournaments, including at the Olympics.
Mohammad Ali Ardebili, director of foreign relations for the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, told Army Radio last week that he had not intended to send the message to the Israel Football Association.
"It is a greeting sent to every country in the world," Ardebili said. He quickly then inquired: "Are you talking from Israel? I can't speak with you. It's a mistake, it's a mistake."
The greeting was received in Israel by the head of the Israel Football Association's legal department, Amir Navon.
"He came into my office asking me if I thought it was a mistake," said body spokesman Gil Levanoni. "So I told him that I didn't know, but that we should send in a reply."
Levanoni and Navon said they replied to the greeting with a "happy new year to all the good people of Iran," and said: "We also added a wink."
"We wrote them that we hoped that they would have a happy soccer year," Levanoni added."
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