Pro-regime Iranian fans hunt anti-government supporters outside Qatar stadium

Pro-regime Iranian fans hunt anti-government supporters and attack them outside Qatar stadium before team’s 2-0 win over Wales

  • The turmoil of the Iranian people has been focus of Iran’s two World Cup games
  • Against England on Monday, the players did not sing their anthem. Before their match with Wales on Friday, they did, but Iran fans jeered the anthem
  • Before the match, pro-government fans harassed anti-government ones
  • Groups of men shouted at women wearing shirts showing a protest message
  • Some surrounded crying women and filmed their faces up-close

Pro-regime Iran fans hunted down anti-government supporters and attacked them outside a stadium in Qatar on Friday, ahead of their team’s 2-0 World Cup victory over Wales.

Several political issues have cast a shadow over the tournament, with the turmoil of the Iranian people becoming a particular focus during both their matches  – against England on Monday, and Wales today.

Unlike in their first match against England, the Iranian players sang along to their national anthem before the match against Wales, as some fans in the stadium wept. 

Supporters wave Iranian flags and hold up a sign reading "Freedom for Iran, No to Islamic Republic", ahead of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, November 25

Supporters wave Iranian flags and hold up a sign reading ‘Freedom for Iran, No to Islamic Republic’, ahead of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, November 25

But there we ugly scenes outside the stadium, where some pro-government Iran fans confiscating Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. They also shouted insults at those wearing shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement: ‘Woman, Life, Freedom.’

Small mobs of men angrily chanted ‘the Islamic Republic of Iran’ at women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media outside the stadium.

Shouting matches erupted outside the security checkpoint at the stadium between fans shouting ‘women, life, freedom’ and others yelling back ‘the Islamic Republic’.

Many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their phones.

One 35-year-old woman, Maryam, who, like other Iran fans, declined to give her last name for fear of government reprisals, started to cry as shouting men blowing horns surrounded her and filmed her face up close.

She had the words ‘Woman Life Freedom’ painted on her face.

Pictured: An Iranian fan stages a demonstration inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium - holding up an Iranian football shirt displaying the name of Mahsa Amini and the number 22 - her age when she died while being held by Tehran's morality police. Protests have swept the nation since, resulting in the deaths of hundreds

Pictured: An Iranian fan stages a demonstration inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium – holding up an Iranian football shirt displaying the name of Mahsa Amini and the number 22 – her age when she died while being held by Tehran’s morality police. Protests have swept the nation since, resulting in the deaths of hundreds

An Iran fan holding a shirt in memory of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died, aged 22, in the custody of the country's morality police in the capital, Tehran

An Iran fan holding a shirt in memory of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died, aged 22, in the custody of the country’s morality police in the capital, Tehran

The Iranian fan appeared to be confronted by official inside the Qatari stadium on Friday

The Iranian fan appeared to be confronted by official inside the Qatari stadium on Friday

Pictured: The same woman is joined by another Iran fan holding an Iran flag that says 'Woman Life Freedom' - what has become slogan of the Iranian protests

Pictured: The same woman is joined by another Iran fan holding an Iran flag that says ‘Woman Life Freedom’ – what has become slogan of the Iranian protests

Another woman, Vanya, 21, who lives in Qatar, said she is terrified to ever go back to Iran after what she experienced outside the stadium on Friday.

‘I’m genuinely afraid for my safety here,’ she said.

A group of fans wearing hats emblazoned with the name of the Iranian former soccer player Voria Ghafori, who was arrested in Iran on Thursday, said they had their hats stolen by government supporters.

‘It’s obvious that the match had become very politicised this week. You can see people from the same country who hate each other,’ said Mustafa, a 40-year-old Iran fan. ‘I think the arrest of Voria has also affected society in Iran a lot.’

Some fans said stadium security removed items with messages in support of the protest movement.

Ayeh Shams, from the US, who was at the game with her brother, said security guards confiscated her flag because it had the word ‘women’ on it.

Pictured: An Iranian fan waves his country's flag during his teams match against Wales, Friday

Pictured: An Iranian fan waves his country’s flag during his teams match against Wales, Friday

Some Iranian fans unveiled a banner saying 'We Love Iran' at their second group match

Some Iranian fans unveiled a banner saying ‘We Love Iran’ at their second group match

‘We’re first-generation American. Our parents were born in Iran. We’re just here to enjoy the games and give a platform for the Iranian people who are fighting against the Islamic regime,’ Ms Shams said.

Some anti-government fans waved signs in support of the protest movement at Iran’s first match against England earlier this week.

Before that game, Iran’s players remained silent as their national anthem played.

On Friday, they sang along – albeit without much enthusiasm. It was reported on Wednesday that Iran‘s footballers had been warned by officials in Tehran they face retribution for their ‘insulting’ decision not to sing their national anthem on Monday.

But as the anthem played, many Iranian fans jeered, booed and whistled.   

Iran fans hold up a shirt advocating for women's rights prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 25

Iran fans hold up a shirt advocating for women’s rights prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 25

Pictured: Two Iranian fans wear t-shirts that read: 'Woman. Life. Freedom.' ahead of today's clash with Wales. Iranian fans have used the world cup to show their solidarity with anti-government protesters at home

Pictured: Two Iranian fans wear t-shirts that read: ‘Woman. Life. Freedom.’ ahead of today’s clash with Wales. Iranian fans have used the world cup to show their solidarity with anti-government protesters at home

A woman shows the words "Woman, Life, Freedom" written on her hand in Farsi language, ahead of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday

A woman shows the words “Woman, Life, Freedom” written on her hand in Farsi language, ahead of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday

Fans in the stands also displayed slogans supporting the protests, drawing particular attention to human rights issues and the plight of women. 

Qatari authorities took particular issue with one female fan, who had painted her face white – with bloody tears pouring out from her eyes.

She held up an Iranian football shirt displaying the name of Mahsa Amini and the number 22 – her age when she died. It appeared one stadium security guard confronted her over her demonstration. It was unclear if she was removed.     

The unrest in Iran has been spurred by the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s morality police.

It first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women, but has since morphed into one of the most serious threats to the Islamic Republic since the chaotic years following its founding.

Iranian players SING their national anthem ahead of Wales game – as crying fans boo: Footballers back down following Tehran pressure after taking brave stand before England match

By Christian Oliver for MailOnline

Iran‘s football team sang their country’s national anthem ahead of their World Cup clash against Wales in Qatar today, after refusing to do so in their first match.

Iran’s players appeared to back down from their protest following pressure from the Islamic regime.

The national team sang quietly, and without exuberance, as boos and jeers from Iranian fans echoed throughout the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, as others in the stands wept.

Prior to their kick-off against England in their first group game on Monday, players remained silent as booing filled the ground.

Their previous refusal to sing was a show of solidarity with protesters in their home country, hundreds of whom have been killed in clashes with government security services over the death of Mahsa Amini – a woman who died in custody after being arrested by the Tehran’s morality police.

Iran's football team sang their country's national anthem ahead of their World Cup clash against Wales in Qatar today, after pressure from the Islamic republic to back down from their previous protests

Iran’s football team sang their country’s national anthem ahead of their World Cup clash against Wales in Qatar today, after pressure from the Islamic republic to back down from their previous protests

Iran's captain Ehsan Hajsafi and goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini sing the national anthem before their second match at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, after refusing to do so in the first game

Iran’s captain Ehsan Hajsafi and goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini sing the national anthem before their second match at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, after refusing to do so in the first game

Iranian players sings during the national anthem before their match against Wales on Friday

Iranian players sings during the national anthem before their match against Wales on Friday

An Iranian man appears to cry in the stadium as the Iran football team back down from their protest after not singing their country's national anthem in their first group game

An Iranian man appears to cry in the stadium as the Iran football team back down from their protest after not singing their country’s national anthem in their first group game

An Iranian woman covers her mouth as she cries during the Iranian national anthem on Friday

An Iranian woman covers her mouth as she cries during the Iranian national anthem on Friday

An Iranian woman wears a t-shirt reading '#FreeIran' as her country takes on Wales in its second group game on Friday at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar

An Iranian woman wears a t-shirt reading ‘#FreeIran’ as her country takes on Wales in its second group game on Friday at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar

But many Iranian fans in the stands still displayed slogans supporting the protests, drawing particular attention to human rights issues and the plight of women.

Qatari authorities took particular issue with one female fan, who had painted her face white – with bloody tears pouring out from her eyes. She held up an Iranian football shirt displaying the name of Mahsa Amini and the number 22 – her age when she died.

Outside the stadium, Iranian fans chanted: ‘Freedom for Iran, No to Islamic Republic’ – a direct rebuke of Iran’s theocratic government and society, where woman do not enjoy the same rights as their fellow male citizens.

Qatari police officials also took issue with fans who waved Iranian flags with black crosses, confiscating them as they entered the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.

Images appeared to show police asking fans to remove the flags as they clamped down on protests in the ground.

Others wore shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement, ‘Woman, Life, Freedom.’

But small mobs of Iranian men, appearing to be supportive of their country’s current regime, angrily chanted ‘The Islamic Republic of Iran’ at women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media outside the stadium.

The shouting match erupted outside the security checkpoint, before the football match had kicked off. One side shouted ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ and others shouted in response ‘The Islamic Republic.’

Many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their mobile phones.

Qatari police officials also took issue with fans who waved Iranian flags with black crosses

Qatari police officials also took issue with fans who waved Iranian flags with black crosses

Images appeared to show police asking fans to remove the flags as they clamped down on protests in the ground. The flags appeared to be Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags

Images appeared to show police asking fans to remove the flags as they clamped down on protests in the ground. The flags appeared to be Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags

One 35-year-old woman named Maryam, who like other Iran fans declined to give her last name for fear of government reprisals, started to cry as shouting men blowing horns surrounded her and filmed her face up close. She had the words ‘Woman Life Freedom’ painted on her face.

Another woman named Vanya, 21, who lives in Qatar, said she was terrified to ever go back to Iran after what she experienced outside the stadium on Friday.

‘I’m genuinely afraid for my safety here,’ she said.

Iran's players previously refused to sing the national anthem as they lined up before their first game of the Qatar World Cup against England on Monday

Iran’s players previously refused to sing the national anthem as they lined up before their first game of the Qatar World Cup against England on Monday

In their first match against England on Monday, players stood stony-faced as the anthem played, while boos and jeers could be heard from the crowd behind them at the Khalifa International Stadium

In their first match against England on Monday, players stood stony-faced as the anthem played, while boos and jeers could be heard from the crowd behind them at the Khalifa International Stadium

On Monday, Iran's national team signalled support for demonstrations taking place back home ahead of their first group game against England, and made a bold statement by refusing to sing the anthem

On Monday, Iran’s national team signalled support for demonstrations taking place back home ahead of their first group game against England, and made a bold statement by refusing to sing the anthem

A group of fans wearing hats emblazoned with the name of the Iranian former football player Voria Ghafori, who was arrested in Iran on Thursday, said they had their hats stolen by government supporters.

‘It’s obvious that the match had become very politicized this week. You can see people from the same country who hate each other,’ said Mustafa, a 40-year-old Iran fan. ‘I think the arrest of Voria has also affected society in Iran a lot.’

Some anti-government fans waved signs in support of the protest movement at Iran’s first match against England earlier this week, when the players refused to sing.

The unrest in Iran was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini back in September. Mahsa Amini was killed in the custody of the country’s morality police. It first focused on the state-mandated hijab, or headscarf, for women, but has since morphed into one of the most serious threats to the Islamic Republic since the chaotic years following its founding.

Iran fans show support for their team at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

Iran fans show support for their team at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match against Wales at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

Whilst some Iranian fans demonstrated during the anthem, others supported their team as they waved their country's flag

Whilst some Iranian fans demonstrated during the anthem, others supported their team as they waved their country’s flag

Ahead of the World Cup, protesters had taken heart from apparent shows of support from a number of Iran’s national teams which refrained from singing the national anthem, such as the basketball team.

Team Melli, as the national football team is known, have traditionally been a huge source of national pride in Iran, but they have found themselves caught up in politics in the World Cup run-up, with anticipation over whether they would use football’s showpiece event as a platform to get behind the protesters.

Asked on Thursday about the unrest at home, Iran national team striker Mehdi Taremi said they were in Qatar to play football. “We are not under pressure,” he added after players refused to sing the national anthem in their first match at the World Cup against England.

Before travelling to Doha, the team met with hardline Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Photos of the players with Raisi, one of them bowing in front of him, went viral and prompted an outcry on social media. 

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