Brazilian soccer club Football Club Internacional, following similar Middle Eastern initiatives by Real Madrid, Inter-Milan and Arsenal, has agreed to establish Iran’s first foreign football school. The Limeira-based club sees the school in the capital Tehran as the first of several in Iran, the Fars news agency quoted the Iranian chairman of the Iran-Brazil Friendship Society, Mir Qassem Momeni, as saying. Momeni said the school would cater to youngsters between 9 and 15 years old, who would be sent to Brazil in summer months for more advanced training. The rash of school openings in the Middle East constitutes an effort by soccer clubs to forge closer ties with oil-rich Gulf states, some of which such as Iran and Bahrain are feeling the heat of a wave of anti-government protests sweeping the region. Real Madrid earlier this month inaugurated Saudi Arabia’s first soccer academy. FC Inter Milan and FC Arsenal last month announced school openings in the region. The clubs are seeking to capitalize on mounting criticism that Middle Eastern nations have failed to nurture soccer talent at a young age resulting in their disappointing performance at last month’s Asian Cup in Qatar.
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