Ex-soccer star says Iran officials barred him from program

FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 file photo, former Spanish soccer international Carles Puyol arrives at the 2018 soccer World Cup draw in the Kremlin in Moscow. The former captain of Spain's national soccer team, Carles Puyol, is claiming that Iranian TV officials barred him from appearing as a World Cup commentator because of his long hair. Iranian officials have denied the claim. The report on Saturday, June 23, 2018 by Jam-e Jam newspaper's TV affiliate quotes government TV official Morteza Mirbagheri as saying the issue was about money not hair. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)

TEHRAN, Iran — The former captain of Spain's national soccer team, Carles Puyol, is claiming that Iranian TV officials barred him from appearing as a World Cup commentator because of his long hair.

Iranian officials have denied the claim.

The Saturday report by Jam-e Jam newspaper's TV affiliate quotes government TV official Morteza Mirbagheri as saying the issue was about money not hair: "There is no need for a foreign figure to receive several hundred million (Iranian rials) for a few minutes on a sports program."

Puyol was invited to appear on a special World Cup 20118 sport program Wednesday during the Iran-Spain match alongside popular host Adel Ferdosipour.

An Iranian news website, Entekhab.ir quoted Puyol as saying he arrived in the country but was barred from the program because of his trademark long curly mane.

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