Ashkan Dejagah's dilemma

Ashkan Dejagah, a talented German-Iranian soccer player, plays for VfL Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga. He's been called up to the German youth national teams a number of times, where he's had some success. Recently he's created a bit of controversy by refusing to travel with the team to play a game in Israel. Iranian law forbids Iranians from traveling to Israel. Dejagah still has family back in Iran, and apparently fears being barred from visiting his relatives back in Iran if he has an Israeli stamp on his passport. He has also said that there are "political reasons. Everyone knows I'm a German Iranian."

Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath has "released" ("Ich habe dem Spieler freigegeben") Dejagah from training with the team so that the rest of the team can "train in peace" ("wir in Ruhe trainieren wollten").

The Central Council of Jews in Germany, as well as a senior member of the Christian Democratic Union (of which Chancellor Angela Merkel is a member), wants Dejagah banned from the national team in retribution. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens, but I also feel that would be way overboard. Essentially they would be forcing Dejagah to choose between abandoning a (very bright) future on the German national team, and never visiting his family or his home country again. I don't think that's a decision a 21 year old should be forced to make.

A lot of issues at play - the political value of soccer matches, the effect on team morale if one player says "no thanks" to the national team for specific games, the identity of an immigrant, Germany's guilt over the Holocaust, and Iran's stupid policy of banning entry to people who have visited Israel.

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