AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Tensions ran excessive at Iran’s second match at the World Cup on Friday as followers supporting the Iranian government harassed these protesting towards it and stadium safety seized flags, T-shirts and different objects expressing help for the protest motion that has gripped the Islamic Republic.
Some followers had been stopped by stadium safety from bringing in Persian pre-revolutionary flags to match towards Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Others carrying such flags had them ripped from their palms by pro-government Iran followers, who additionally shouted insults at followers carrying T-shirts with the slogan of the protest motion gripping the nation, “Girl, Life, Freedom.”
Not like of their first match towards England, the Iran gamers sang alongside to their nationwide anthem earlier than the match as some followers within the stadium wept, whistled and booed.
The nationwide group has come below shut scrutiny for any statements or gestures concerning the nationwide protests which have wracked Iran for weeks.
Shouting matches erupted in strains outdoors the stadium between followers screaming “Girls, Life, Freedom” and others shouting again “The Islamic Republic!”
Small mobs of males surrounded three completely different girls giving interviews concerning the protests to overseas media outdoors the stadium, disrupting broadcasts as they angrily chanted, “The Islamic Republic of Iran!” Many feminine followers appeared shaken as Iranian government supporters shouted at them in Farsi and filmed them close-up on their telephones.
One 35-year-old lady named Maryam, who like different Iran followers declined to offer her final title for worry of government reprisals, began to cry as shouting males blowing horns encircled her and filmed her face. She had the phrases “Girl Life Freedom” painted on her face.
“We wish to elevate consciousness about his arrest and concerning the girls’s rights motion. Easy,” mentioned Maryam, who lives in London however is initially from Tehran. “I’m not right here to battle with anybody, however individuals have been attacking me and calling me a terrorist. All I’m right here to say is that soccer doesn’t matter if persons are getting killed within the streets.”
Maryam and her associates had worn hats emblazoned with the title of an outspoken Iranian former soccer participant Voria Ghafouri, who had criticized Iranian authorities and was arrested in Iran on Thursday on accusations of spreading propaganda towards the government. She mentioned Iranian government supporters had taken the hats from their heads.
Ghafouri, who’s Kurdish, was a star member of Iran’s 2018 World Cup group, however was surprisingly not named within the squad for this yr in Qatar.
“It’s apparent that the match had turn into very politicized this week. You’ll be able to see individuals from the identical nation who hate one another,” mentioned Mustafa, a 40-year-old Iran fan who additionally declined to offer his surname. “I believe the arrest of Voria has additionally affected society in Iran so much.”
Livid protesters in Iran have been venting their anger over social and political repression and the state-mandated headband, or hijab, for girls. The demonstrations, spurred by the Sept. 16 dying of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini within the custody of the nation’s morality police, have rapidly grown into requires the downfall of the Islamic Republic itself. At the least 419 individuals have been killed for the reason that protests erupted, in accordance with monitoring group Human Rights Activists in Iran.
The turmoil has overshadowed the beginning of Iran’s World Cup marketing campaign. The opening match towards England on Monday was the scene of protests as anti-government followers waved indicators and chanted within the stands. Earlier than that match, which Iran misplaced 6-2, its gamers remained silent as their nationwide anthem performed and didn’t have fun their two targets. On Friday they sang alongside to the anthem and celebrated wildly once they scored within the 2-0 win towards Wales.
Ayeh Shams from the US, who was at the sport towards Wales along with her brother, mentioned safety guards confiscated her flag as a result of it had the phrase “girls” on it.
“We’re first era American. Our dad and mom had been born in Iran. We’re simply right here to benefit from the video games and provides a platform for the Iranian people who find themselves preventing towards the Islamic regime,” Shams mentioned.
Zeinlabda Arwa, a safety guard at the stadium, confirmed that authorities had been given orders to confiscate something however the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Whether or not you’re speaking about Iran or Qatar or any nation, you might be solely allowed to usher in the traditional flag,” she mentioned.
An offended group of Iranian government supporters shouted at Elyas Doerr, a 16-year-old Iranian residing in Arizona who was carrying the Persian flag as a cape, till he took it off and and put it in his bag. “They’re not liking that it’s a political assertion,” he mentioned, including that different Iranian followers had approached him to say they appreciated the gesture.
Earlier than Friday’s match, Iranians chanted anti-government slogans from rooftops in Tehran. Scattered protests additionally erupted in Kurdish cities within the nation’s west and throughout the central metropolis of Isfahan on Thursday.
Iranian state TV on Friday devoted its principal information bulletin to Iranians’ soccer prowess, wishing the nationwide group luck towards Wales and airing a montage of Iranian targets all through historical past.