Confederations Cup in Farsi at CBCSports.ca

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Spain, South Africa match on June 20 to be broadcast in Persian language

CBC Sports

Watching the first Punjabi-language telecast of basketball's Toronto Raptors on CBC Sports in late March not only intrigued Tom Rajabzadeh but sparked an idea.

What about broadcasting games in Farsi, considered the most widely spoken Persian language?

"Any sport I wanted to do this for our community," the Iranian-born Rajabzadeh told CBCSports.ca. "But soccer would be an attention grabber, especially with World Cup qualifications being played."

This Saturday, Rajabzadeh gets his wish, as he will do play-by-play of the FIFA Confederations Cup game between Spain and hometown South Africa in Farsi in an unprecedented move by CBCSports.ca. The game also will be shown on CBC Sports at 2:30 p.m. ET.

'Soccer is the national sport in Iran - some would say a way of life.' - Former professional soccer player Tom Rajabzadeh



CBC Sports, already the Canadian leader in multi-language sports broadcasting, provided select National Hockey League games this season in Cantonese, Italian and Punjabi.

A self-described soccer nut, Rajabzadeh attended the University of Maine on a soccer scholarship before playing professionally in Austria. He has dabbled in the broadcasting business over the years on a freelance basis.

"It comes very natural to me. I grew up playing soccer and immigrated to Canada 23 years ago," said Rajabzadeh, a former soccer coach.

As the founder of SportsList.ca, Rajabzadeh profiles and connects student-athletes with college, university and professional coaches and scouts.

Broadcasting this weekend's game in Farsi for the first-ever time on CBCSports.ca is a great opportunity to reach the Iranian community across the country, he said. Statistics show there are 150,000 Persian-speaking people in the Greater Toronto Area and a bigger community in Vancouver.

"Soccer is the national sport in Iran - some would say a way of life," said Rajabzadeh. "When the top two teams play, there are 100,000 people in the stadium.

"The Iranian national team is in the midst of qualifying for the [2010] World Cup, so from a business standpoint there's a market for it.

"Hopefully, this can be a start to doing Toronto FC games and Hockey Night in Canada games [in Farsi]."



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