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Iranian team drops star for 'refusing' to fast

By the CNN Wire Staff
Steel Azin footballer Ali Karimi who has been dropped for reportedly refusing to fast.
Steel Azin footballer Ali Karimi who has been dropped for reportedly refusing to fast.
  • Team says player refused to honor Ramadan fast
  • Top player Ali Karimi fired from team though attacking midfielder denies accusation
  • Karimi is second most capped player in the history of the Iranian national side

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- One of Iran's biggest soccer stars has been kicked off his team for refusing to fast during the holy month of Ramadan, the team's website reported.

According to Steel Azin Football Club's website, star player Ali Karimi was fired from the club after dismissing several warnings by a club official.

"Respecting God's laws and honoring the sacred laws of Islam are of the utmost importance to Steel Azin and unfortunately these matters have not been adhered to by the named player," the report said.

The club also accused Karimi, 31, of insulting Iranian Football Federation officials.

I am a Muslim. I do respect Islam.
--Ali Karimi, Steel Azin footballer
  • Ali Karimi
  • Iran
  • Islam

According to Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency, Karimi denied any wrongdoing of that he had insulted Iran's Football Federation.

"I am a Muslim and I do respect Islam," Karimi said, according to ISNA.

Karimi -- dubbed the 'Maradona of Asia' and the 'Wizard of Tehran' -- is one of the most recognizable faces in Iranian sports.

After a four-year stint with UAE-based side Al-Ahli Karimi moved to Bundesliga side Bayern Munich where he played in the title-winning side led by Felix Magath.

Karimi grew into a pivotal attacker for Iran's national team, becoming the second most capped player in the sides' history and scoring 36 goals in 112 appearances.

National law in Iran states that all Muslims are required to observe fasting during the holy month of Ramadan which started on Thursday.