Iran’s football federation on Monday imposed indefinite bans on two players for their “immoral acts” during goal celebrations, state television’s website reported.
The incidents, condemned by officials and commentators alike, took place during a league match between Persepolis Tehran and Damash Gilan, broadcast live on national television to millions of Iranians.
Footage on YouTube shows Persepolis defender Mohammad Nosrati pinching his teammate Sheys Rezaei’s bottom as they celebrated a goal against Damash.
Rezaei, another YouTube video shows, squeezed an unidentified teammate during another goal celebration in the dying moments of the game, which Persepolis won 3-2.
“Nosrati and Rezaei have been banned indefinitely from all football activities for committing immoral acts,” said Ismail Hasanzadeh, head of Iranian football federation’s disciplinary committee, quoted on the website.
The two have also been suspended by Persepolis, a popular club financed by the government, and have to pay a fine of 500 million rials (nearly $40,000) each.
Nosrati and Rezaei insisted the gestures were not meant to offend anyone, but Hasanzadeh said they are under further investigation and could face a lengthy ban.
The Iranian federation has for years tried to impose strict rules to curb what it calls immoral behaviour on the field, as well as foul language used by players and spectators in stadiums around the Islamic republic.