The manager of Spanish football giant FC Barcelona has been denied entry to the US ahead of the club's pre-season tour, reportedly because of his previous visits to Iran. Xavi Hernandez Creus is a former Spanish international and midfield maestro for Barcelona who visited the Islamic Republic several times during his time playing for Qatari side Al-Sadd between 2015 and 2019.
Xavi ended his illustrious career in Tehran when Al-Sadd was beaten 2-0 by Iranian club Persepolis in the last group match of the AFC Champions League. According to the Spanish sports news site El Mundo Deportivo, Xavi's three visits to Iran meant that he needed a special permit to enter the US.
Xavi will not travel with the team to the US. When Xavi was a player at Al-Sadd, he visited Iran more than 3 times, consequently needing special permission to enter the United States. The manager will join them a few days later.
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) July 16, 2022
The Catalan team arrived in Miami, Florida in the early hours of yesterday without Xavi having realised on Friday that the coach would be unable to travel with the Barcelona squad and officials. However, it has since been reported by AFP that Xavi's travel plans have merely been delayed, and that he will be able to fly out today to arrive ahead of Barcelona's friendly against Inter Miami tomorrow evening.
Iran has faced various sanctions by the US ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, particularly following the subsequent seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran.
Part of the stalled efforts to revive the nuclear talks between the US and Iran involves Washington lifting economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The government in Tehran has insisted that it will only comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — when the US lifts its sanctions on Iran.