Supporters of the Iranian government clash with protesters at the World Cup


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dated: 2022-11-25 13:17:16 .

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Tensions were high at Iran’s second World Cup match on Friday, as supporters of the Iranian government harassed protesters and stadium security confiscated flags, T-shirts and other items showing their support for the protests. the movement that engulfed the Islamic Republic.

Some fans were prevented by stadium security from bringing pre-revolutionary Persian flags to the match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Others who carried such flags were torn from their hands by pro-Iranian fans, who insulted the fans by wearing T-shirts with the slogan of the protest movement that swept the country: “Woman, Life, Freedom”.

Unlike the first game against England, the Iranian players sang their national anthem before the game, while the fans inside the stadium cried, whistled and whistled.

The national team has been scrutinized for any comments or gestures related to the nationwide protests that have rocked Iran for weeks.

Fights broke out in the rows in front of the stadium, between fans who shouted “Women, life, freedom” and others who shouted back “Islamic Republic!”

Small groups of men surrounded three different women who were giving interviews to foreign media about the protests outside the stadium, disrupting the broadcast as they angrily chanted “Islamic Republic of Iran!” Many of the female fans looked shaken when supporters of the Iranian government shouted at them in Farsi and filmed them with cellphones at close range.

A 35-year-old woman named Maryam, who like other Iran fans declined to give her last name for fear of government reprisals, began to cry as screaming men honking horns surrounded her and filmed her face. She had the words “Woman Life Freedom” written on her face.

“We want to draw attention to his arrest and the women’s rights movement. It’s simple,” said Maryam, who lives in London but is originally from Tehran. “I’m not here to fight anyone, but people attacked me and called me a terrorist. I’m just here to say that football doesn’t matter when people are being killed in the streets.”

Maryam and her friends wore hats bearing the name of an outspoken former Iranian soccer player, Voria Ghafouri, who has criticized Iranian authorities and was arrested in Iran on Thursday on charges of spreading anti-government propaganda. She said supporters of the Iranian government had taken their hats off their heads.

Ghafouri, who is Kurdish, was a star player in Iran’s 2018 World Cup team but was surprisingly not included in this year’s squad in Qatar.

“Obviously the game was very politicized this week. You see people from the same country hating each other,” said Mustafa, a 40-year-old Iran fan who also declined to give his last name. “I think Voria’s arrest also had a big impact on Iranian society.”

Angry protesters in Iran vent their anger at social and political oppression and the government-mandated wearing of headscarves or hijabs for women. The demonstrations caused by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16 in the custody of the state vice quickly turned into calls for the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself. At least 419 people have been killed since the protests began, according to the Activists for Human Rights in Iran monitoring group.

Turbulence has overshadowed the start of Iran’s World Cup campaign. Monday’s first game against England was the scene of protests as anti-government fans waved signs and chanted in the stands. Before that game, which Iran lost 6-2, his players remained silent while their national anthem was played and did not celebrate their two goals. They sang the national anthem and celebrated when they scored in a 2-0 win over Wales on Friday.

Ayeh Shams from the United States, who was with her brother at the Wales match, said security forces took away her flag because it said “women”.

“We are first generation Americans. Our parents were born in Iran. We are only here to enjoy the games and to provide a platform for the Iranian people who are fighting against the Islamic regime,” Shams said.

Zeinlabda Arwa, a security guard at the stadium, confirmed that authorities had been ordered to confiscate everything except the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Whether you’re talking about Iran, Qatar or any other country, you’re only allowed to bring in a normal flag,” she said.

An angry group of Iranian government supporters shouted at Elyas Doerr, a 16-year-old Iranian from Arizona who wore a Persian flag as a cloak until he took it off and put it in his pocket. “They don’t like that it’s a political statement,” he said, adding that other Iranian fans have approached him and said they appreciate the gesture.

Before Friday’s game, Iranians chanted anti-government slogans from rooftops in Tehran. Isolated protests also broke out in Kurdish towns in the west of the country and in central Isfahan on Thursday.

Iran’s state television on Friday dedicated its main news program to Iran’s football progress, wishing the national team luck against Wales and airing a montage of Iran’s goals throughout history.


AP coverage of the World Cup: i

Isabel Debre and Ciarán Fahey, The Associated Press


Supporters of the Iranian government clash with protesters at the World Cup

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