CHICAGO (CBS) — They came to Chicago to play volleyball, but members of Iran’s national team appear to be front and center in a political showdown. They were detained for hours at O’Hare International Airport.
The Iranian national team will show its talent at Credit Union 1 Arena.
CBS 2 spoke to one staff member on the team who said a simple customs procedure turned political.
On Monday, Iran filed a complaint.
The Iranian men’s national volleyball team practiced Monday at the University of Illinois at Chicago after being interrogated for several hours Saturday at O’Hare International Airport.
The players preferred not to speak about the incident. Instead, the team doctor, Siyamak Afroozi, spoke on the team’s behalf.
“We don’t care about the politics. No sportsman cares about the politics,” Afroozi said. “Some of our colleagues and one or two of our players had some long, long process.”
He said customs and border patrol agents interrogated some of the members of the team for two hours and checked their cell phones and luggage. The Islamic Republic’s state news agency said the team was delayed four hours.
The international governing body for volleyball also expressed its discontent and is working with authorities to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Afroozi said this is not the first time. Last year, the same thing happened when the Iranian national team arrived at the airport along with Poland, but the European squad did not go through the same rigorous process.
“All teams come here to win. Don’t think about politics. Just think about sport,” he added.
A spokesperson for the customs and border patrol office said the agency followed normal procedures and everyone was processed without incident.