South Korean authorities have accused Ahmad Amereh, 38, an official for Iran’s Omid National Team, of sexual harassing a young female volunteer at the Asian Games, which are currently being hosted in Incheon. Amereh has been told he cannot leave the country until further notice, pending investigation into allegations.
According to reports, the equipment manager touched a young woman’s breasts and bottom when the team, officials and volunteers gathered to take a photograph on September 15. The team, which comprises of young athletes aged 23 or under and also known as Iran U-23, had traveled to South Korea to take part in the Games, one of the most important sporting events in the region.
The case against Amereh was sent to South Korea’s judiciary on September 17. Amereh pleaded guilty to the crime, but insisted he was unaware his behavior was illegal under South Korean law. He is currently staying at the athletes’ dormitory while he awaits further developments. He was questioned by police on Wednesday.
According to a source in Iran, it’s normal for athletes traveling to international competitions to take photographs of themselves with people from host countries and to keep them as souvenirs. “But Iranian officials tend to do these things quietly,” he says. “In this particular case, the team’s equipment manager overstepped the line, although this isn’t the first time it’s happened at an Iranian sports camp. Various sports teams in the past have gone abroad and done this, especially in Southeast Asia. But since they weren’t publicized, nobody was punished.”
The Iranian football insider told IranWire that Mehdi Mohammed Nabi, the Secretary-General for Iran’s Football Federation, appointed Amereh as a U-23 official. Nabi is a controversial figure himself, and the Ministry of Sports is trying to oust him on charges of corruption. “Mehdi Mohammed Nabi is close to former national footballer Alireza Mansourian, having worked together as partners at a Tehran printing house,” says the source. Ahmad Amereh was Mansourian’s bodyguard before he started playing for the team.
Ahmad Amereh, a married man, is now banned from being involved in this year's Asian Games in any way. It is also believed that if he returns to Iran, the Football Federation will prohibit him from attending sports camps in the country.