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FIFA World Cup 2022: Pro-government crowd harass protesters ahead of Iran v Wales match | Football news

Iran’s political turmoil also cast a shadow over Iran’s second World Cup match on Friday, with pro-government fans harassing anti-government fans outside the stadium in Qatar. Unlike their first game against England, before the game against Wales, the Iranian players sang along with their national anthem while some fans in the stadium cried. Some Iran fans seized Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering the Ahmad Bin Ali stadium and shouted insults at those wearing shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement, “Woman, Life, Freedom”.

Small groups of men angrily chanted “The Islamic Republic of Iran” at women who gave interviews outside the stadium about the protests to foreign media.

Screaming matches broke out outside the security checkpoint between fans shouting “Women, Life, Freedom” and others shouting back “The Islamic Republic.”

Many female fans were visibly shocked when supporters of the Iranian government surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their phones.

A 35-year-old woman named Maryam, who like other Iran fans refused to give her last name for fear of government reprisals, began to cry as screaming 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 of ever going 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 bearing the name of former Iranian football star Voria Ghafori, who was arrested in Iran on Thursday, said their hats had been stolen by government supporters.

“Obviously the match was very politicized this week. You see people from the same country hating each other,” said Mustafa, a 40-year-old Iran fan.

“I think that Voria’s arrest also had a lot of influence on society in Iran.”

Some anti-government fans waved signs in support of the protest movement during Iran’s first game against England earlier this week. Before that match, Iran’s players remained silent as their national anthem played. They sang along on Friday.

Unrest in Iran was sparked by the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country’s vice squad. 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.



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