Iranian wrestler throws match to avoid fighting Israeli

Controversy arose after an Iranian wrestler threw an international bout despite being ahead in order to avoid fighting an opponent from Israel in the next round.

In a video posted online, wrestler Alireza Karimi Mashiani looked to be winning in his match against Russia's Alikhan Zabrailov in the 86-kilo category of the under-23 world championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

He then appeared to have abandoned the fight and let himself be dominated after a voice shouted at him in Persian: "You must lose, Alireza!"

The hashtag #youmustlose subsequently started trending in Iran with some netizens saluting his move and others slamming him.

Iran does not recognise Israel and forbids its sportsmen from competing against Israelis.

Although Alireza forfeited his chance at a podium place finish, he received the backing of his government and the Iranian wrestling federation.

An official statement on the website of the youth and sports ministry said:

"Your noble and heroic action in the world competition in Poland, abandoning the medal and the podium in support of the highest human values, is a source of pride and praise."

According to AFP via The Straits Times, the wrestler had acted similarly in 2013.

The country's wrestling federation wrote in its own statement: 

"It is the second time that you have risen up against the oppression of the Palestinian people by abandoning your rights in an act of absolute submission."

According to the results of the tournament, Russia's Zabrailov won gold in the 86-kilo category and Israel's Uri Kalashnikov took the third step of the podium.