Iranian Soccer Player Quits International Play Due To Online Bullying

Sardar Azmoun, 23, is one of the best soccer players that Iran has ever seen. But online harassment, which he said hurts his mom's health, forced him to quit.

An Iranian soccer player is retiring from international play after being subjected to online bullying from angry fans. That bullying is affecting his mother’s health, he said, which is forcing him to bow out of play in the future.

Sardar Azmoun, a 23-year-old striker for Iran, played all 90 minutes in all three games in the group round stage at the World Cup for his nation. Although he didn’t score a single goal during this year’s competition, he has scored 23 goals in the last 33 games for Iran and is ranked the fifth all-time leading scorer in his country.

Iran was knocked out of the rest of the competition, ranking third place in their group, and thus ineligible to enter the next round of the World Cup.

Azmoun will likely still play for his club team, Rubin Kazan out of Russia, but the rude and distasteful commentary from online fans has prompted him to say he’ll never play internationally again.

“Playing in my national team has been a great honor for me, and I will be proud of myself to the end of my days,” Azmoun said.

But harassment from others has made it difficult to carry on — namely because it’s making life more difficult for his mother.

“My mother had overcome a serious illness, and I was happy,” Azmoun explained, “but unfortunately, because of the unkindness of some people, and the insults that me and my teammates in no way deserved, her illness has become severe.”

Because of that, Azmoun said he has decided it’s not worth his mother’s health to continue playing in international events.

“This has put me in a difficult position where I must pick one or the other — and as a result, I pick my mother,” he said.

There have certainly been positive stories to come out of this year’s World Cup, as well as many horrific situations that deserve condemnation. Azmoun’s departure, which is based on the online harassment he received, is unfortunate, especially for a young and talented rising star such as himself.

His choice to look out for his mother must be recognized as laudable, as the decision likely wasn’t an easy one. Azmoun is a talented player, but surely his mother is proud of him for other reasons, including his selflessness.


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