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UNIS/NAR/689
28 June 2000
UN Teams Up with Iranian Soccer Star Khodadad Azizi In "Sports. Not Drugs" Media Campaign

VIENNA, 28 June (UN Information Service) -- Iranian soccer star Khodadad Azizi, a striker with the San Jose Earthquakes, has joined the United Nations world-wide "Sports. Not Drugs" media campaign, it was announced today at UN Headquarters in New York.

The Vienna-based UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) and Major League Soccer (MLS) of the United States said Mr. Azizi had filmed a 30-second public service announcement in his native Farsi warning young people about the dangers of drug abuse. The message will be shown in Iran later this year and an English dubbed version will be broadcast in the United States and Europe.

"Playing soccer taught me the value of determination and team work," Mr. Azizi says in the public service announcement. "Don't play with drugs, play sports and realize your dreams." An anti-drug poster featuring the soccer star will also be distributed in Iran.

Mr. Azizi spends today at the United Nations in New York, where he will take a tour of UN Headquarters and will meet with Iran’s Ambassador to the UN, Hadi Nejad Hosseinian.

"Athletes are important role models for young people around the world," said Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the ODCCP. "We are thrilled that Khodadad Azizi, who is a national hero in Iran and known internationally, is a part of ODCCP's global 'Sports. Not Drugs' campaign."

Prior to joining the San Jose Earthquakes this year, Mr. Azizi was a starter on Iran's 1998 World Cup team that defeated the United States. He was Asian Player of the Year in 1996 and has also played for FC K?ln in the German Bundesliga. The sports figure is a native of Mashhad, Iran. He joins basketball player Vlade Divac, (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), baseball player Pedro Martinez (Dominican Republic), and cricketer and World Bowling Record Holder, Courtney Walsh (Jamaica) as part of ODCCP's "Sports. Not Drugs" campaign.

Contact (in New York):

Zach Messitte -- UNODCCP (212) 963-2710
Catherine Philbin -- MLS (212) 450-1266

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