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Iranian Soccer Player Banned

April 27, 2000 GMT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ A soccer player in Tehran has been suspended for six months and fined $1,200 for taking his shirt off and pulling down his shorts when he celebrated his goal in a televised match, his coach said Thursday.

Mohammad Mailikohan said the incident took place during a cup match last week between Saipa, the Tehran club he coaches, and city rival Pas when 19-year-old striker Mohsen Rassuli celebrated his late goal. Saipa won 1-0 to reach the semifinals.

Rassuli, who was making his debut for Saipa, was wearing briefs under his shorts, but such behavior in public is virtually a taboo in Iran, where Islamic laws are strictly observed.

``The court does not have the right to issue a verdict against the player. It is up to the disciplinary committee of the football federation to punish him,″ Mailikohan, a former coach of Iran’s national team, told The Associated Press.

He said he had admonished the young striker and that Rassuli had already apologized for his behavior but that now he feared the harsh verdict may ruin his future.

The court announced its sentence on Wednesday.