In their first game, against England, the players did not play the national anthem, in what appeared to be a show of support for the protests that have swept Iran since September after the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, at the hands of police. . But the move was not enough for some players, who chanted against the players, calling them “criminals.”
As expected, an Iranian nation focused on protests at home
By Tuesday, as the important match against the United States loomed, some Iranian fans gathered at Al Thumama Stadium seemed united in their belief that the players had passed. The government or its opponents have used their members as a trigger, including Iranians living abroad, and intensified the struggle – by those who claim the same or reject it – and football has become an afterthought.
The pressure from citizens abroad to cover the group was “tremendous,” the Houston fan said, referring to his first name only, Sherry said. “Politics should not be mixed with sports. This is not an opportunity for that. “
Milad Seyedi, from Toronto, who wore Iran’s uniform from 1998, when the team defeated the United States, said he wanted the world to understand that the players “are the Iranian team. They are under all kinds of pressure. Their families are under pressure. We are not against them.”
If those thoughts lifted some weight on the players, it didn’t show in Tuesday’s results. Despite the chances in the second half, Iran won the match, 1-0, and was eliminated from the tournament.
The coach of the team, Carlos Queiroz, who during the World Cup tried to prevent the players and the politics surrounding the team, said after the match that “in terms of commitment, in terms of delivery, with enthusiasm, confidence, they did something. It’s possible in a game to score a goal.”
The next time Iran qualifies for the World Cup, he added, the players must prepare well, but they will also need to “put mind, spirit, soul into the game,” in what appeared to be speaking for all people. a distraction.
“Keep going,” he said of one. “Trying to get respect, appreciation and trust all over the world. I think they deserve it. ” But even as he said, video coming out of Iranincluding those from the Kurdish region who were at the center of the conflict, showing people celebrating the group’s victory.
Months of controversy have led to Tuesday’s game.
Ahead of the tournament, Iran’s armed forces, known as Team Melli, have been fighting, with some Iranians calling on FIFA, the world governing body for football, to ban the team from accepting the protest. and bloodshed by the authorities. killed hundreds of protesters. Others felt that the team’s appearance in the World Cup allowed them to gain more visibility into the conflict.
Countermeasures: how Iran is trying to stop Mahsa Amini’s protests
As the tournament began, social media mourned the targeting of football teams as the death toll rose. “The Islamic Republic has scored 2 goals, and Baluchistan has received dozens of bullets,” one source read, referring to Iran’s southeastern suburbs.
Ahead of Iran’s second match, against Wales, Iranian authorities arrested a former national team member who was critical of the government, in what was seen as a warning to World Cup teams not to support protests. the body. The next day, in the World Cup stadium, the Qatari police removed some supporters who were wearing T-shirts supporting the riots, apparently with the permission of the Iranian authorities.
Amidst all the chaos, the idea of a “conflict” between the United States and Iran – given the lack of interest between the two governments – seems to be an afterthought, or even an anachronism, as the supporters of the two countries are quickly mixed with deposits. Tuesday.
All the viewers “had different emotions,” said Sina, who traveled from Sydney and would only be known by her first name. “Islamic authorities are trying to pull off success like this,” he said, referring to Iran’s clerical leadership. Iranians “want America’s support against a violent regime.”
“But I want Iran to win this game,” he said.