Iran's World Cup Team Just Beat Wales & Here's Why Their Country Is Divided Over It
There's more at stake than just a game.
You'd think Iran's first victory at the World Cup in decades would bring citizens together in celebration, but things are a lot more complicated than that for Iranians right now.
Iran has been gripped by protests ever since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died while in the custody of the government's "morality police" in September.
Over 400 people have been killed in the protests and the government has also sentenced several people to death for participating, Human Rights Activists In Iran say.
Now the country's national soccer team has become a focal point on the world stage, as they've made a few gestures to encourage the protesters and piss off their government.
Here's what you need to know about Iran's national team and their role in the bigger issues dominating the country.
Who won Iran vs. Wales at the 2022 World Cup?
\u201cA huge win for IR Iran! \ud83d\udc4f\n\n#FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022\u201d— FIFA World Cup (@FIFA World Cup) 1669383391
Iran defeated Wales 2-0 in their match on Friday at the World Cup.
Iran's Rouzbeh Cheshmi stepped up in injury time to score after the two sides played to a draw over 90 minutes. Iran added another goal after that to finish things off.
Did Iran's team sing the anthem at the World Cup?
\u201cProtest by Iranian fans - booing their own national anthem ahead of match against England. #Qatar2022 #iran\u201d— Jonathan Swain (@Jonathan Swain) 1669035553
Iran's national team remained silent as the Islamic Republic's national anthem played ahead of their first World Cup match against England. Some fans carrying Iran's colors also booed the anthem.
That gesture triggered anger from government officials back home, who warned that the players would face consequences if they continued to reject the anthem.
The players did appear to sing along to the anthem before their second game on Friday against Wales. Some fans booed the anthem at the stadium, while others waved flags with the words "Women, Life, Freedom" written on them. The words are a nod to Amini's death.
What did Iran's captain say at the World Cup?
\u201cIran\u2019s World Cup captain: \u201cIn the name of God, creator of rainbows\u2026 I want to say condolences to all the grieving families in Iran\u2026 we want them to know we are with them and by their side and share their pain.\u201d\n\nAstounding courage & bravery.\u201d— Shabnam Nasimi (@Shabnam Nasimi) 1669064586
Ehsan Hajisafi, Iran's team captain, seemed to share some words of support for protesters back home at a recent news conference from the World Cup.
"In the name of God, creator of rainbows (...) I want to say condolences to all the grieving families in Iran," he said. "We want them to know we are with them and by their side and share their pain."
Why were Iran fans arguing at the World Cup match?
Iranian fans were divided between protest supporters and government backers, and those tensions boiled over during the game on Friday.
Government supporters were taking protesters' flags during the match, the Associated Press reports. One side would shout "Women, Life, Freedom" while the other shouted "The Islamic Republic."
Some protesters reportedly waved flags from before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, when clerics essentially took over the government.
Small groups of men also crashed TV interviews involving women and started chanting government slogans, the AP reports.
"I’m not here to fight with anyone, but people have been attacking me and calling me a terrorist," a protest supporter named Maryam told the AP. "All I’m here to say is that football doesn’t matter if people are getting killed in the streets.”
The 35-year-old said she was born in Iran but now lives in London.
Did Iran arrest a soccer player on the national team?
Iranian police arrested soccer star Voria Ghafouri on Thursday, the Guardian reports. State-run media said he had "tarnished the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state."
Ghafouri is a former member of the national team and was not on the 2022 World Cup squad, although he did join the team in 2018.
Ghafouri has challenged the Islamic Republic's ban on women at football stadiums in the past, CBS News reports. He's also expressed sympathy for Amini's family.