Saturday, January 28, 2023

Iranian fans stage a duel against the US

DOHA, Qatar ( Associated Press) – As Iran’s national team faced off against the United States, politically divided fans clashed in the stands.

Tuesday’s World Cup duel between Iran and the United States was emotionally charged by Iranian fans. Some traveled to Qatar to support not only their team, but also the protesters in their own country.

As in Iran’s other matches at the World Cup, government supporters tried to silence protesters at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium. Some fans supporting the protest claimed that government supporters wanted to intimidate them by pointing their phone cameras at their faces.

Shortly after the match, which the United States won 1–0 to knock Iran out of the tournament, ended, a brawl broke out between protesters, who shot former player and outspoken critic Ali Karimi, a symbol of the movement. , and placed images of an official media outlet of Iran journalist who tried to film them. Security officials had to intervene.

Other men played or recorded the vuvuzela beside them. A man shouted at them in Farsi, “Why don’t you think Iran is okay?”

Maryam, who like other Iranian fans did not give her last name for fear of government retribution, said her friends faced the same harassment at Friday’s Iran-Wales match.

“They can’t stop us. People are getting killed and I’m not going to stop for any one person. I’m not afraid of them,” he said.

Iranian players in Qatar chose not to comment or give an unclear message about the protests in Iran, which began after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s moral police.

“It’s very sad for me because I want to support them so much, but I can’t,” said 18-year-old Dalia, who attended the meeting with her parents.

The Iranian players sang the national anthem before the start of the match, just as they had done against Wales. The players remained silent during the national anthem in the World Cup opener against England, a gesture interpreted as support for the protests.

The tension between Iranian fans was in stark contrast to friendly interactions with American supporters. Smiling fans of the United States and Iran pose for photos outside the stadium. The two teams previously met at the 1998 World Cup in France, in which Iran defeated the United States 2–1.

“It has been wonderful to see the Americans. They are very friendly,” said Yaas, a 14-year-old Iranian from the city of Shiraz. “I hope this is an opportunity for people to connect and share their culture in a peaceful way.”

Her elder sister painted an X on her lips with a black marker.

“He does it to show that we can’t all talk about politics in our country,” Yaas said.

At least 455 protesters have been killed and more than 18,000 arrested since the protests began in Iran, according to Human Rights Activists, a group monitoring the protests.

Iranian authorities announced before the match that former national team players Parviz Boroumand and Voria Ghafouri, who were arrested earlier this month in connection with the protests, had been released.

Nation World News Desk
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