On the night of Sunday, March 14, the Iranian top snooker player Soheil Vahedi competed against an Israeli dual national in the ongoing WST Pro Series tournament.
The news was confirmed by Iran’s state-affiliated Young Journalists Club, which also implicitly condemned the decision. It went on to prematurely claim that Vahedi, who lives in the United Kingdom where the tournament is taking place, had been left out of the professional tour at the end of this period due to poor results this season.
Soheil Vahedi has had a successful career in the World Snooker Tour and this year’s participants have yet to be announced. Originally from Kish, the 31-year-old won the 2016 IBSF World Championship and has earned two consecutive two-year cards on the World Snooker Tour since then.
On Sunday night, he defeated Joe O'Connor and Matthew Selt in his first two games in Milton Keynes, England, going on to face English three-time champion Mark Selby, who currently ranks fourth in the world. In the pivotal third game, he also defeated his rival with a score of 2-0.
In the fourth game, Vahidi then defeated the German player Lukas Kleckers. But in the fifth game, he lost to young English player Daniel Womersley. Because of the need for a tie-break, he then had to face the Scottish-Israeli player Eden Sharav.
Soheil Vahedi also defeated Sharav 2:1 in what the Jerusalem Post has called “a welcomed civil moment around the pool table”. But he was then defeated in his last game against English player Stuart Carrington.
In a statement issued on Monday, March 15 the Bowling, Billiard and Boules Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran denied responsibility for Soheil Vahedi having played against a citizen of Israel.
It went on: "Soheil Vahedi has been out of Iran for four years and lives in the United Kingdom on a work visa. The conditions for membership in the professional tour are such that people participate in it freely and participating in professional tours means leaving the national rankings of the national federations.
“Following the last competition, he had been given the necessary instructions in recent months. But he has participated in these competitions due to personal decisions. Therefore, having made a single appearance against his opponent in the English competition had nothing to do with the Federation and was his personal decision."
At the end of its statement, the Federation called on “the sports community, especially the media, not to take any action that disturbs the public mind and disturbs the peace of the sports community”.