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Religious matters not an issue

Talented football player Daniel Mohammed Davari was born 26 years ago to a Polish mother and an Iranian father in the German city of Giessen. Until recently, he has been playing for Eintracht Braunschweig in the German Bundsliga and earlier this year, to his great delight, he was selected to play for his father's home country as goalkeeper in the World Cup in Brazil, though until last night he had been patiently waiting on the substitutes' bench as his team-mate Alireza Haghigi had been chosen so far. At 1.98 metres tall, Davari is perfect in this role. Indeed it was only when he was 14 that he decided to give up handball to concentrate on football.
Davari had actually only ever been to Iran on one occasion before he was selected to play for the country, and that was as a child.  As reported in an article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, he knew before his last visit that he needed to develop a certain sensitivity for the differences in culture between the country of his birth and the one he represents on the football ground. Although he speaks English to communicate with his team-mates, he is also learning Farsi. He spoke of how warmly he was received in Iran (he has dual German-Iranian nationality) and was most struck by the friendliness and hospitality everywhere he went. "People welcomed me with open arms and I was often recognised on the street," he said.
And what about religious and political matters? After all, Davari was brought up as a Catholic. "This is not a problem at all," he said. "I have not been asked about such issues." It was actually on the second occasion that Davari was playing for his country in an international match that a bomb left in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, where they were playing against Lebanon, killed 23 people.
And what has all this to do with Zurich? On Sunday 20 July Davari will begin his career at the Grasshopper Club in Zurich, when his team will be playing against its rivals FCZ.
Followers of the World Cup will not need to be told Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Iran 3:1 last night.
The second photograph shows Iranian president Hassan Rouhani watching his team from home.

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