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ICC Note: After going public about his Christian faith, Teymourian could face persecution when her returns to Iran .

Christian World Cup star from Iran

7/28/06 Iran (AsiaNews) – The only Christian player in Iran ’s national soccer team has been named “Christian star of the World Cup” in a poll undertaken by a Dutch ecumenical Christian group because he was not ashamed in showing his Christian faith.

Andranik Teymourian, a 23-year-old Iranian midfielder, received 31.3 per cent of votes in the online contest organized by Gristelijk (www.gristelijk.nl), a group of Protestant and Roman Catholic teachers and lecturers, out of a shortlist of 11 leading Christian soccer players who chose “to be open about their Christianity”.

The poll’s organizer Menno Rasch said that a total of 1060 votes were cast during the month-long soccer tournament which ended on 9 July with an Italian victory.

According to Pietre Kohne, spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of the Netherlands , “there is a lot of resistance to the idea that a soccer player might be Christian. I think it is a good initiative to show that players who become superstars in the World Cup are also spiritual and believe in God.”

In a statement released in Germany after Iran failed to make the second round with a defeat by Angola , Teymourian said that being part of a religious minority in his country was not a problem and that he got along “very well” with his team mates.

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