World Cup 2022 Iran fans Torn on Cheering for Their Team

Posted by DG, Date posted at November 30, 2022

This year’s World Cup has come at a time when not all the teams’ countries see a good time to cheer and celebrate with the world in the tournament. Such is the predicament of the Iran Team and their fans. 

Saheil Ghaffari, pictured outside the Joiners Pub Image source: The Guardian
Saheil Ghaffari, pictured outside the Joiners Pub Image source: The Guardian

The repression of the citizens of Iran from speaking out and protesting atrocities and issues has not only sparked even more protests, and attention from global human rights organizations but also saw suspicious circumstances in the deaths of women who have championed banning the wearing of the hijab. The demonstrations have also resulted in violent and aggressive behaviour from Iranian police creating havoc and several rallies seriously hurt and some causing their death. They openly fired real bullets into the crowd in a desperate effort to disperse it.

The Iranian Team’s protest still not enough

Arrests and detention are rampant in Iran on anyone who shows they are one of the protests currently carried out throughout the country. The Iranian football team tried its best to show solidarity with their fellow citizens by not singing the national anthem at its first game against England. This drew mixed reactions from Iranians worldwide — videos streaming as cheers and jeers for their action were seen and heard on most social platforms. 

The Iranian government’s bold actions to immediately detain, place in house arrest and heavily sanction anyone, especially those who are known content creators, athletes and celebrities have struck fear and great hesitance to take more palpable action to empower the cause. 

Despite Iran being thousands of miles away, a big Iranian community living and based in north London is also deeply affected by what’s happening. The national uprising has seen heartbreaking reactions and feedback from them as they post content and air out their grievances for the whole world to see with the government crackdown and how violently this has been.

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In an act of desperation, fans present at the World Cup in Qatar cheered for England instead of their home team. While others have given their nod and acknowledgment of the players’ silence during the national anthem, expressing how proud they were of the Iranian team for doing so. It can be possible that once they go back to Iran, they may get sanctioned for this, too. 

England vs Iran | 2022 FIFA World Cup | Match Highlights

Fans speak out 

The large Iranian community who were watching the match between Iran and England at the King of Prussia pub in Finchley gave their sentiments and insights on what was happening.

Fans watch the Iran v England match at the King of Prussia pub in Finchley. Image Source: Antonio Olmos/The Guardian

Saheil Ghaffari, 33, openly stated that he was having a “little guilty conscience” supporting the team during the national uprising. But also voiced out that the team’s decision not to sing their country’s national anthem was a show of solidarity with the Iranian people.

“I think the result is a clear reflection on the sort of political dilemma they are all in,” said Ghaffari, who was born in Iran. “In the Iranian political atmosphere it is very difficult to have an opinion, so I understand that they’re very limited in what they can say.” Meanwhile, three fans who were at Doha’s Khalifa stadium showed their support for the Iran uprising declaring: ‘We are all Mahsa’

Other fans weren’t as sympathetic to the players against the backdrop of the protests in Iran. 

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Just outside Joiner’s Pub was Moo B: ‘I didn’t support Iran because they are for the terrorist government,’ he cries, “for the Iranian dissidents”, who supported England in Monday’s match instead.

Sam B, who asked not to have his last name shared, “But, to be honest, even if England wins, from the looks of it, I’ll still be happy,” he added. “It’s not nice to see what’s happening to people. I don’t necessarily need to be there to understand what they’re going through,” he said.

Mehdi, 54, was also torn on what was going on, “We are all confused, we want Iran to win but because of the situation in Iran, we don’t know. We want them to be people’s voice but we don’t see much,” Mehdi said, adding he would have liked to see the players take a bolder stance. “Even right now there’s so much demonstration, uprising, killing from the government towards people.”

“There are so many questions we want the government to answer, we always feel disappointed. We just try our best to maybe be another voice, but we are 100% sure they don’t listen to us because of their fanatical religious beliefs,” he said. “But we try.”

The perfect example of how most Iranian fans felt can be seen with what Shervin, 24, said — he has been watching Iran play since childhood, “Obviously I understand everything that’s going on,” he said also wearing his Iranian jersey, “But you know,” he said, on the decision to support England: “I’ve been waiting for years for this tournament.”

My heart goes out to the fans of the Iran team. We’re lucky to have freedom of speech standing strong in the Philippines. If I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t be in the mood to participate in the games, too. But I would still cheer for the team, especially on their heroic act of defiance. Any thoughts on this, dear readers? Just comment down below, we always look forward to hearing from you guys, thanks!

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