TAMPA, FLA. (AP) - George Steinbrenner often compared himself to powerful, iron-fisted leaders.
Assuredly, the late New York Yankees owner never had the Iranian president in mind.
The confidential cable described how Ahmadinejad tried to use the popularity of Team Melli to improve his standing with the Iranian people ahead of the 2009 elections. The diplomat predicted the team’s struggles could affect the president’s results at the ballot box.
Known as The Boss, Steinbrenner changed managers 21 times during his 37 1/2 years as owner.
The cable, out of the Dubai-based Iran Regional Presence Office, said Team Melli was suspended in 2006 from international tournaments because of Ahmadinejad’s “repeated violations” of soccer’s governing body’s rules against political interference.
The State Department declined to address the cable’s contents.
“We don’t comment on supposedly leaked documents,” State Department spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said.
The cable also said Iranian intelligence services had files on many of the team’s players. Steinbrenner was suspended from baseball for 2 1/2 years for paying a self-described gambler to obtain negative information on Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield, with whom Steinbrenner was feuding.
Steinbrenner had a reputation for instilling fear in his players and staff, and outspending other teams to land the biggest-named players. During his tenure, the Yankees were called the “Evil Empire” by the rival Boston Red Sox.View Entire Story
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