How can sports contribute to real peace? Imam Khamenei explaines

When the Leader of the Islamic Revolution—Ayatollah Khamenei—met with a group of athletes on September 24, 2018, his Eminence referred to the key role the world’s free-hearted athletes have played in countering the domineering powers and establishing real peace.

On one note, you should know –and you definitely do know– that the Front of Global Arrogance becomes furious with each victory that we gain --whether in the arena of sports, in the arena of war, or in the arena of science. They become furious at any moment we become victorious. So, your victory is actually victory over the Front of Arrogance. You defeated and angered them, and now they have to suffer miserably.


You are aware that they are prepared to bribe referees and judges to do anything they can to prevent you from winning. They are such sore enemies. When you achieve victory, you have in fact defeated them psychologically and emotionally. It is not just the rival who has been defeated in the arena of sports: there is also a large front, behind the scenes, which gets defeated as well. That is why we are proud of you.


When I issue a message expressing my gratitude after your victories, this is something that truly comes from the bottom of my heart. I show my genuine gratitude. --That is because you truly represent a national victory for the Iranian nation, and you make them happy: this is one point.


Another point, I would like to make, is that in some sport related competitions, our victories have managed to make millions of people in other countries happy. The historic football (soccer) match between Iran and the US –that well-known football match– cheered people in Egypt, in Beirut, and in many other countries. They do not have familial ties with us, but they become joyful at our victory. So, your victories make a certain front bitter – so much the better, because they are the enemies of humanity – and they make many other people gleeful. Your victories are their victories as well[...]

I also want to tell you that you should not be intimidated by the enemy. If they say that some international federation or organization will be dissatisfied with you -- should you refuse to participate in certain matches, to do things this way or that and to appear a certain way -- well, to hell with them if they become dissatisfied: they will not be able to do a single thing {to stand on one's way of success}. They threatened Mr. Alireza [Karimi]; but, thankfully, he went, he became a champion, and he returned home. Last year, he did not participate in a certain competition. In fact, he accepted defeat for the sake of his values. They threatened him and our wrestling federation. You should not give in to such threats; you should do your own thing; you should set out on your own path, and follow your own goals.

I would like to add that sometimes a championship lies in the lack of participation in an arena. Notice that when they fuss about you not competing and wrestling against members of the Zionist regime, this is because they want to divert the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation away from the firm and straight path they have been taking since the beginning of the Revolution.


Since the beginning of the Revolution, we have been saying that we do not formally recognize two regimes, not just in a sense that we did not want to establish relations, but in the sense that we did not recognize them at all! One was the Zionist regime and another was the racist, apartheid regime of South Africa. Those who claim to be supporting human rights and other such values today used to maintain relations with this regime – they are supporting it nowadays as well – and with the South African regime until the last moment!


The South African regime was comprised of a small White clique which would rule over millions of Africans --who actually owned these lands. Now, these Anglo/White people had come from England and Holland. They were originally English and Dutch, but they would rule for many years --perhaps for a hundred years, I do not remember exactly– over that country. We announced that we do not recognize that apartheid regime. We said that South Africa belongs to the people of South Africa, not to the British and Dutch usurpers.


Once, Mr. Mandela, who had just been released from prison, came and sat in this room, the very room you are sitting in now. He was here before he became president. So, we sat here together, and I explained the story of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) to him. I spoke to him about Imam’s fight. I said that Imam’s fight was like his own: he did not use arrows, guns, a coup d’état or the like; rather, he proved something to the people and won their hearts.


The people poured onto the streets with their own bodies. No regime can confront and defeat a people who take to the streets courageously with their own bodies. I realized that at some point my words had moved him. When he left here, street rallies were held in South Africa, and they continued until the apartheid regime was overthrown. --This one {the Israeli regime} will be overthrown as well. The Zionist regime is a racist, apartheid, and usurping, fake, and malicious entity. --This one will be ousted as well.


We will not compete with this regime: this earns us the genuine championship title. When our "Pahlawan" (hero) refuses to compete against the enemies' representative in every other competition, this is his championship medal! When our champions are willing to suffer defeat so they don't have to compete against them on the basis of international protocols, this earns them the genuine title of champion. When Mr. Karimi came here, last year, I said to him that he is a champion. "When you refused to go and when you tolerated that hardship, this makes you a champion. You did something to exempt yourself from competing against him [the enemy's rep], and instead, you accepted defeat." --This is very difficult for a wrestler. When he is struck he can always strike back, but to refuse to do so, this is very difficult. This is the mark of a true champion.

Sep 24, 2018