If they watched the game, the Iranian regime’s leaders must have choked. And maybe they won’t let the offense pass. The players of the Iranian team have indeed challenged them by wearing a black parka, without logo or coat of arms, during their national anthem. The scene took place on September 27 in Austria, before a friendly match against Senegal (1-1).
By hiding their jerseys under the parka, the Iranians protested against the ongoing repression in their country. Thousands of people have been demonstrating since September 14 and the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old young woman arrested in Tehran by the morality police for not respecting the dress code imposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The latter had been accused of wearing her veil “inappropriately”.
Since 1979, Iranian women have been forced to wear the hijab, a scarf that covers the hair and leaves the face visible. A dedicated police force enforces this rule with complete impunity. Those found to be offenders are fined and risk jail time and lashes. This treatment has become unbearable for part of the population, which has expressed its indignation in the streets for several players, despite the severe repression of the police.
The strong message of Sardar Azmoun
Carlos Queiroz’s players, despite threats of sanctions, join in these demonstrations. Before wearing the parka, some Iranian footballers had spoken publicly on the subject like Sardar Azmoun, scorer against Senegal. “The ultimate punishment is to be expelled from the national team, which is a small price to pay for even a single lock of hair from an Iranian woman. It will never be erased from our consciousness. I’m not afraid of being ousted. Shame on you for killing the people so easily and long live the women of Iran. If they are Muslims, may God make me an infidel,” the 27-year-old Leverkusen striker wrote in an Instagram story that was eventually deleted. It is in this context that Iran is preparing its World Cup. The Iranians will face England, USA and Wales in Group B.