Iran's judiciary prosecutes supporters of national football team's opponents

Iran's judiciary prosecutes supporters of national football team's opponents
Authorities are going after people showing support for national teams that Iran's squad plays against in the World Cup as Iranian fans celebrate their team's defeat.
3 min read
28 November, 2022
Players of Iran sing the national anthem during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on 25 November 2022 in Doha, Qatar. [Getty]

Judicial authorities shut down a branch of a restaurant chain in the capital Tehran after the eatery posted supportive comments on Farsi social media for England national football team in the 2022 Qatar World Cup, the judiciary's official website Mizan reported on 22 November.

Mizan did not disclose the restaurant's name but said it was closed due to "anti-nationalist posts on Instagram".

Meanwhile, Voria Ghafoori, a former national team player, was arrested Thursday for "insulting and discrediting Iran's national football team" after a humiliating defeat against England, Tasnim news agency reported.

Pejman Rahbar, a veteran sports journalist, was also briefly arrested and interrogated for three hours for ridiculing Iran's squad after its opening game in the World Cup against England.

On 21 November, England beat Iran 6 – 2, and Iran's national football team experienced its worst loss in international matches since 1950. 

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After the game, many Iranians celebrated their national football team's heavy defeat to England at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and posted videos of their celebration on social media in a show of opposition to the establishment.

Mehdi Chamran, the ultra-right chairman of Tehran's City Council, also threatened that the authorities would not "tolerate disrespect to Iran's flag and national anthem".

Thousands of Iranians from across the world travelled to Qatar, taking advantage of the World Cup to express solidarity with the anti-establishment uprising in Iran. 

Since September 16, at least 416 were killed by the police and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the protests that began after the death of Mahsa Amini in "Islamic morality police" custody.

Hundreds of Iranians at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha during Monday's match booed their national team while Iran's anthem was played. 

As England scored a goal, Iranian fans in the stadium celebrated Iran's loss. They also shouted "scoundrel, scoundrel" at Iranian players, a slogan that protestors use inside Iran against the police and IRGC forces.

Anger against Iran's national football team boiled last month when the footballers failed to show a clear sign of support to protestors.

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In weeks before the World Cup, Iranians set on fire several banners and images of Iran's football team, which were set up by the authorities across the country.

The protestors also hung handmade banners from pedestrian overpasses, accusing the footballers of being accomplices in the authorities' brutal crackdown on demonstrators.

In one of these banners, a ball stained with blood was illustrated with a sentence in Farsi: "Watch out not to slip on the blood".

Meanwhile, some Iranians dubbed the country's national team Team-e Mullah as a sign of considering it a governmental squad, not a national one. Iran's national team in Farsi is called Team-e Melli.

Iran's squad won its second game 2-1 against Wales and will play against the US on 29 November.  


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