17 June 2014
A Goal for Iran
Along with playing in this year's World Cup, Iran's national soccer team took on an important conservation concern. In an unprecedented move, FIFA, the governing body for international soccer, agreed to allow the Iranian team to wear jerseys displaying the image of an Asiatic cheetah.
With the jersey image, Iran hopes to enlist international help in a movement that has mobilized the country's conservationists. The world has fewer than 75 Asiatic cheetahs left (all are thought to live in Iran), but the declining numbers have inspired Iranians to study and protect the cats, and the country's government has taken steps to stabilize the cheetah population. To strengthen its cheetah-conservation efforts with international support, Iran successfully petitioned FIFA to make an exception regarding rules for jersey features. For more details on this story, click here.
When a species' population drops to numbers as small as those of the Asiatic cheetah, keeping it from extinction becomes a major challenge. It's the kind of project that requires much work, constant attention, and international cooperation. Sharing the message about Iran's cheetahs at the World Cup will hopefully bring the resources needed to protect these cats.
The Iranian soccer players may not be able to use their hands on the field, but they are lending one to the preservation of their country's cheetahs.