Saturday, 18 July 2015
31 May 2020
Goftegoye Rooz”- Vahid Sarlak, a former Judo player for Iran national team, refugee to Germany"

“I became tired of political sports”

2010 December 10

Ardavan Roozbeh\
Radio Koocheh

“How a professional athlete could survive in order to both play and do politically what others want him…

This is a part of what Vahid Sarlak uttered. He is a former player in Iran’s Judo national team who said when an athlete forced to lose a game intentionally for not facing an Israeli, there would be no hope for performing healthy.

We are talking about Vahid Sarlak, a successful Judo player who became a refugee to Germany from this summer after he has a journey there in last March.

Although Iran sport’s official were reject that point but Sarlak announced that he became a refugee in an official interview. While confirming his refugee he says: “I tried for many years to become a member of national team, I did not have other sources of income except playing and from the national team. When I became the first one in national team, my efforts were forgotten easily.”

In the interview he pointed that: “Maybe it is an old repeated story that I lose a game to Azeri player purposefully due to not facing an Israeli adversary in 2005 because of avoiding Judo Federation deprivation and promises of federation officials and Mr. Amini because if I did not face the Israeli the federation would be deprived. In that competition I could get the bronze medal but I was not able to do so because of that thought. And as I came back Iran all the promises for car and house were forgotten.

In tonight’s interview I go for Vahid Sarlak and ask him about his reasons for escaping out. Sarlak who was stressed that sports in Iran are political and an athlete must follow non-playing politics of the regime, was participated to this interview.

This interview was done while recently Mina Alizadeh, an Iranian sculler, became refugee to Germany and Ehsan Rajabi, another Judo player was migrated to the U.S.

Mr. Sarlak! You have been one of the Iranian Judo athletes who became refugee in Germany. Please explain the reason for your refugee application to Germany and how did you do that?

I have been an Iranian team member for 4 years but from one year ago I have not played for Iran. Still I am ranked at the top of the world in IGF ranking. I abandoned Iran forever because of unfair and wrong policies of Iran and federation that ruled on sports.

I am a professional athlete not a politician and not related to my country politics. This subject put more pressure on me to abandon Iran for ever for avoiding such thing happened for me again

When we are talking about wrong policies we must have a provable reason for not coming back to Iran. Could you please tell us what the problem was?

Wrong policies mean that: In 2005, at the best years of my young ages I had to face a player from Israel in international games. Because of pressures from the federation and Islamic Republic government I forced to lose a game with a player from Azerbaijan for not facing with the player from Israel and became away from the race without any reason. Everyone knows that a professional athlete must work hard to introduce himself to the world. I had endeavored for 6 years and won the other best players but they violate my right for not facing with the Israeli.

The day after that, every newspaper wrote that “Vahid Sarlak refused to play with Israeli” but it was not like that. I believe that this really put pressure on an athlete. Why an athlete must not play with an Israeli adversary? I am a professional athlete not a politician and not related to my country politics. This subject put more pressure on me to abandon Iran for ever for avoiding such thing happened for me again. I will not have a long playing life for avoiding a match because of not facing with Israeli adversary.

You told that you had been forced to lose the game to the player from Azerbaijan. What are the federation or programmers pressures that can force you to lose or not facing with an adversary?

What provoke you is that the life of we athletes is a professional playing and doing it for 24 hours a day. When we say “No” to their “Yes”, the first thing they do is that you will be bereaved of sport life. That means you cannot practice nor play in a competition and you became disable. That is too tough.

The second thing is that they impose much pressure on you and your family and accuse you and that is too hard too.

When you did not compete with the Israeli adversary, did the Islamic Republic shelter you due to what it wants of you?

It wasn’t applied to me. They promised me to tender house and car but as we came back Iran they forgot everything. The head of federation was General Derakhshan at that time and I went to meet him and remind him that they had told something like this to me before: “Your medal is Gold medal for us and what we give as remuneration we will also give to you.” But they did not give anything to me. Not only they done this to me but also create an accusatory case for me and told: “You are anti-regime and got more problems.” Even they wanted to bereaved me but I did not go for the matter and assumed to continue my casual life.

You have been in professional place of professional athletes. Are there such pressures imposed to professional sports society? Who are the decision makers for the athletes and tell them how they should perform in games?

I want to inform you about the world of Iran sports very openly. I want to defend who they play in Iran. I have been in national team of Iran for 14 years. During these years I saw everything with my own eyes and suffer it. In Judo team it has been 14 years that the coach was not changed. What would be the reason? Everything is null and just words without any act in Iran. When you want to talk about them and utter the realities, they eliminate you from sport or delete your name from nation team or you must suffer camps without your rights. Whether you won a medal or not everything is controlled by them and it is not important for them. You must not know the things or informed about them.

We are hearing much news about Iranian professional athletes. Some days ago an Iranian sculler has become refugee. Do you believe in such pressures as causes of it and left no other way for those professional athletes to continue in Iran?

The only thing that can introduce a country to the world is its professional sports, like when a professional athlete won a medal and the country’s flag sways and every one will stand for respecting. What an athlete could do maybe a president could not. Follow the situation of our country to see that its athlete escape out of the country and change their nationality and play for the other country. All of us love our country and nation, but because of wrong policies of our country someone like me or the sculler became refugee. Someone like Ehsan Rajabi went to the U.S and I am informed about him. He was a fixed member of Iran’s team in 100 kg class. But they did not took him even to Asian Games for just what Iran’s dailies said that he talks more than what he ought to say and omit his name from the team easily. The head of federation declare that Vahid Sarlak and Ehsan Rajabi were not in the team at all. It is not important for them that such figures like us leave Iran.

They could cancel the pressures from athlete and their families and let the politics and sport be separated. What is that mean when they force athlete like me to go to Islamic Revolution anniversary demonstration and tell: “If you do not come, you will be omitted from national team and could not go to the tripe”? In what place in the world something like this happened to athletes? This a real question.

I know that you go to German national team. How did you go there?

Still I am not a member of German national team. By what they knew about me and how I practiced, they realize my capabilities as an athlete that they want. They serve me eagerly and invite me to their teams. They gave me every facility that my country would not give me at all. I am an alien and foreigner for them but my country did not do what they did kindly for me or give to me as a professional athlete. I was so offended in that 14 years that today I wish to hold German flag by my hand. My first wish is to fight with Iran as my first game round. The second wish is to fight with Israeli without any stress or politics.

Recently the Iran team coach called me for international competitions and said: “You must come back to Iran for selection”. “For what should I come back?” I replied. It was just to take my passport and hurt me. He said: “Are you refugee there?” I answered: “It is none of your business! Let me continue my own life.” They have threatened me till now. Even when you called me I thought it might be from Iran embassy. They put so much stress on me.

Persian text

«نوشته فوق می تواند نظر نویسنده باشد و الزامن نظر رادیو کوچه نیست»


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