On February 1st the new Iran 2014 World Cup kits were unveiled at a ceremony held at Olympic Hotel in Tehran.
Among the attendees were government officials, football players, Iranian celebrities, diplomats including ambassadors of various countries, journalists as well as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. B. Murali.
The home jersey was unveiled in a televised event and carries a breast logo depicting the Asiatic Cheetah. Aside from its importance to the world of football, the event was a watershed in terms of raising national awareness of the dangers faced by this highly-endangered iconic species and the need to protect it.
Earlier in November, when FIFA President, Joseph Sepp Blatter visited Iran and met with Vice President and Head of Department of Environment, Ms. Masoumeh Ebtekar, he promised to support the Department of Environment’s efforts to prevent the extinction of the Asiatic Cheetah. He Tweeted: “Met Iran VP Masoumeh Ebtekar. I learnt how the Iranian Cheetah is endangered species and will be a new symbol of national team, raising awareness”
The Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project is a long standing initiative between Iran’s Department of Environment, UNDP and a number of committed national and international partners.
The cheetah has lost most of its historic distribution range across the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. It is today considered as “Critically Endangered” according to the latest IUCN Red List (IUCN 2008). The cheetahs are estimated to number to as few as 50 cats in the wild in a fragmented population in central Iran, mainly in the Dasht‐e‐Kavir.
The unveiling of the national football World Cup kits is expected to contribute to transforming the Asiatic cheetah’s fortunes by turning it into a national symbol. The UNDP project’s strategy has been to raise awareness to reverse the population decline, and lay the foundation for its recovery.
Football is the national sport of Iran and Iran’s matches will be avidly watched in the remotest corners of Iran including the rural communities within the cheetah range.
Iran will play Nigeria, Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer.