The games in Qatar are not going well for the Iranian regime. He has been humiliated before the world, not by Iran’s 6-2 defeat against England, but by the Iranian team itself, whose members expressed their disgust for the regime and their solidarity with the protesters at home by refusing to sing the Iranian anthem.
Their impassive faces, their motionless lips as the anthem played, were seen by perhaps a billion people around the world. And to make matters even more humiliating for the Iranian regime, Iranians in the stands booed when the Iranian national anthem was played and then roundly booed their own team when it was on the field, as a way of not conveying any rancor towards the Iranians. Iranians. team, but rather, as all the commentators have pointed out, his hatred for the regime in Tehran. Booing in the stands by Iranian fans and silence on the pitch by Iranian players conveyed the same message of anger against the Tehran regime. You can find more about this display of discontent by Iranian players and fans here: “Iranian soccer fans mock national anthem ahead of World Cup clash with England in Qatar,” by Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, November 22 from 2022:
In unprecedented scenes at the World Cup in Qatar, Iranian fans loudly booed their country’s national anthem as the national team stood grim-faced on the pitch ahead of their opening game against England on Monday.
Video posted by journalists covering the flagship soccer tournament showed fans booing and yelling over the anthem as it was played over the public address system at the Khalifa International Stadium. Several fans were seen making thumbs-down gestures. Several carried signs in the colors of the Iranian flag or wore T-shirts proclaiming “Women, Life, Freedom,” the main slogan of the historic protests currently rocking the Islamic Republic.
Meanwhile, the Iranian players stood still, wearing stony facial expressions and deliberately not singing the anthem. In a pre-match press conference, team captain Ehsan Hajsafi makes explicit reference to the protests at home. “We have to accept that the situation in our country is not good and that our people are not happy, they are discontent,” Hajsafi said. “We are here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or that we shouldn’t respect them. Everything we have is theirs.”
England thrashed Iran 6-2, in a match that resulted in 14-minute stoppage time after Iran goalkeeper Majid Hosseini was carried off the field with a concussion. meAs a measure of the ferocity of the anti-regime protests currently convulsing Iran, social media accounts posted cellphone videos of Iranians watching the game on television and delightedly cheering an England goal.
Iranians, both those in the stands in Qatar and those watching from their homes in Iran, were the only people in the world who cheered when their own country’s team missed a goal, or when the opposing team, England, made one.
Some Iranian fans carrying protest signs said they were denied entry to the stadium by Qatari officials, the New York Times reported. Qatar had already come under fire for allegedly caving in to Iranian demands after the media credentials of Iran International TV, a London-based anti-regime broadcaster, were canceled on the eve of the competition.
Qatar did what it could to limit Iranian demonstrations against the regime. He prevented Iranians carrying protest banners from entering the stadium where Iran’s match with England was to be held. He canceled the press credentials of Iran International TV, a London-based anti-regime broadcaster. But none of that has stopped the station from covering, from a distance, both the silence of the Iranian players and the booing of the Iran team by Iranian fans in the stadium. And the world media has given extensive coverage both to the Iranian players who remained silent during the performance of the Iranian national anthem, and to the Iranian fans who, by booing the Iranian team, told the world, their way, how much they hated her. the Tehran regime.
The official Iranian media conspicuously avoided prominent display of their team’s humiliating defeat. — the only time since a 6-1 loss to Turkey in 1950 that Iran have conceded six goals. In a tweet that followed the final whistle, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Persian-language Twitter account observed simply: “[T]he defeats the Islamic Republic.”
Monday’s match was already embroiled in controversy after FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, suddenly reneged on an earlier commitment to allow team captains to wear “One Love” armbands that promote basic community rights. LGBTQ+. Under Qatar’s penal code, homosexuality is prohibited and members of the LGBTQ+ community are subject to heavy prison terms and even, in the case of Muslims, the death penalty.
On Monday, FIFA informed participating teams that players wearing the armband would face disciplinary sanctions, including possible removal from the field. A statement from seven national football associations protesting the decision said: “We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to infringements of the kit rules and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in a situation where they can be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”
FIFA was prepared to do whatever Qatar wanted (after all, it has received nearly $500 million from hosting the 2022 World Cup matches) and Qatar wanted to prevent players from wearing armbands that conveyed a message of support for LGBT people, and served as a protest against Qatari laws that prohibit and severely punish homosexual activity. FIFA diligently informed teams that had planned to participate that any player wearing the armband would be severely disciplined, possibly even outside of games. That threat was enough to put an end to the “armband protest.”
Coverage of World Cup matches naturally focused on the sensational. And the most sensational events, aside, so far, from the upset Saudi victory over Argentina, which deserves investigation, have to do with Iran, its players on the field and the Iranians in the stands. A billion people around the world, glued to their sets, watched Iranian players refuse to sing their national anthem, and Iranian fans cheering against their own country’s team: the clearest display yet on the international scene. , of the tremendous popular anger against the regime. which, in Tehran, is now on the defensive, holding on by force of live fire which it uses to suppress non-violent civilians. He manages to hold power still, but for how long?
One last question that many may be asking: will the Iranian soccer team return to Tehran, where it will face the regime’s savage punishments, possibly even death, for its “betrayal” in Doha? The Iranian regime has already executed athletes it has deemed enemies of the regime, including wrestling champion Navid Afkari, who participated in anti-regime protests in 2018 and was later falsely accused of killing a security guard. Would the Iranian regime dare imprison the twelve members of the team for the “crime” of not singing the national anthem in Qatar? Or would you be afraid to impose such harsh measures now, given the widespread revolt inside Iran, and instead opt for a much lighter punishment, say, a year or two in prison?
And there are other possibilities. What would happen if the twelve members together applied for asylum in a European country, possibly England, where Iran International is located, or in Great Satan himself, the United States? What a blow that would be to Iran’s position. Would Qatar, under tremendous pressure from Iran, prevent them from leaving for London or Washington, or would it insist that they be sent back, by force if necessary, to Tehran? Things will get tough with Qatar, both in the media and on social media, if it decides to forcibly send those Iranian players back to Iran, where they will face punishments they don’t deserve, including long prison terms and even execution.
In a few weeks, just after the World Cup matches end on December 18, we should know what Iranian players will have decided, individually or as a group, whether to return to what awaits them at the hands of a vengeful, cruel . , and fanatical regime, or seek refuge in a Western country, where, if they wish, they can continue the protest they started when they refused to sing the anthem of the hated regime in the Doha stadium. And then we’ll see, too, to what extent Qatar is Iran’s puppet, possibly preventing those players from choosing freedom. Whatever those players choose, or are forced to do, the effect on Iran’s image in the world will be tremendous.