‘Woman, Life, Freedom’: Iranian Fans Protest Against Regime at World Cup
Iran’s protest movement made itself felt during the hotly anticipated opening match against England in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with people holding signs carrying political slogans, and the Iranian team staying silent for the national anthem.
Iranian fans in the stands in Doha showed overwhelming support for the women-led protests inside the country, with videos showing them wearing the national colours and holding signs saying: “Woman, life, freedom” – the protest movement’s rallying cry.
While Iranian national team players remained silent as the anthem played, while crowds sang anti-government victory songs and booed.
The protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, who was allegedly beaten to death by police after she was accused of not wearing her hijab properly, have roiled the country since September despite harsh crackdown and arrests. The regime blames ‘foreign hands’ for orchestrating the angry mass protests that started against the restrictive head-covering laws for women.
Since the beginning of the protests, at least 378 people have been killed by security forces, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights, including 47 children.
Women are not allowed to enter football stadiums in Iran, but every time the national team qualifies for an international tournament, Iranians – mainly from the diaspora – flock to stadiums to show support for one of their home country’s most popular sports.