Merkel sceptical of calls for Iran World Cup expulsion

German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains sceptical of calls for Iran to be thrown out of this summer's soccer World Cup, which her country will host, her spokesman indicated today.

The idea of expelling Iran from the tournament has been raised over recent weeks by several members of the European parliament.

The calls emerged after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the Nazi Holocaust as a “myth” and his country resumed nuclear activities.

Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm noted that, in a recent newspaper interview, Merkel said that "she personally doesn't think so much of such a measure, of shutting out the Iranian team, because that would punish people, sports fans and sportsmen, for the behaviour of a government".

Merkel also noted that any such decision would in any case be a matter for sports organisations and not for the host country, Wilhelm said.

"Merkel stands by the view that Ahmadinejad's statements are in every way unacceptable," Wilhelm said.

"This evaluation of President Ahmadinejad's comments does not also apply to the Iranian team's participation in the soccer World Cup."

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