The Return of the Captain

Following a huge saga last August, Iran captain Masoud Shojaei has been banned from the national team. The official reason? His age & form. The 'unofficial' reason? The fact he played with his former club, Panionios of Greece, against Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Europa League qualification. Shojaei, who has identified with the Iranian Green Movement in the past, has been marked as a traitor by some  in the Iranian politics & public, even though with him was another national team player, Ehsan Hajsafi, who has only been criticised by local politicians, but not banned from the team.

 The captain is back, after one of the most exaggerated sagas in Middle eastern football. Shojaei (Getty Images)

The captain is back, after one of the most exaggerated sagas in Middle eastern football. Shojaei (Getty Images)

In the past week the scandal finally ended with Carlos Quieroz, the Portuguese coach of Team Melli, called Shojaei - who for the past months has played for AEK Athens - back to the national team for the friendlies against Algeria and Tunisia.

This story was accompanied by a surprising photo that popped up in social media. Injured Israeli football star Maor Buzaglo posted a photo of him together with another injured player - Ashkan Dejagah - another Iranian captain. 

In the caption Buzaglo wrote: "In football the rules are different and there is one language with no wars and prejudices. Iran national team captain and myself are proving that we can live otherwise." 
Dejagah himslef also commented on the photo: "Wish you a quick recovery, too, my friend." 

The post went viral with Israeli and Iranian football fans exchanging warm wishes to each other, in a unique and rare occasion. Buzaglo & Dejagah proved that football is indeed bigger than any political unrest of leaders, and that the game belongs to the pepole - the fans and the players.