Iranian Football Protest

By | January 8, 2010

Thanks to my friend Negar Mottehedeh, and via a post from Enduring America, here are two videos from a January 6th game between Iran and Singapore, during which Iranian fans chanted anti-government slogans — “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,” in support of opposition leader Mousavi in the 1st video, and “Marg Bar Dictator,” (“Down with the Dictator,”) in the second.

Since last summer, when the Iranian national team wore green armbands in protest of the June election results — something you can read about in detail here at one of our “Soccer Politics” pages — football has become a forum for protest, to the point that in September a game was actually broadcast in black-and-white on Iranian state television so that viewers would not be able to see fans wearing the color green, the symbol of the “Green Revolution” in Iran. Apparently, on January 6th, Iranian television broadcast the games without sound so that the chants could not be heard. I also remember reading, in one of the excellent “Green Briefs” from late this summer, that one of the first games in the Iranian premier league was actually held without any fans in the stadium, as the authorities feared the match would become a forum for protest.

Iran defeated Singapore 3-1 to secure a berth in the 2011 Asian Cup competition, as you can see in the third video below. For the fans chanting in the stadium, meanwhile, support for the Iranian team was a way of supporting a different future for the Iranian nation.

This game took place in Singapore. In March, however, Iran plays Thailand in Tehran. What will the stadium sound like then?

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About Laurent Dubois

I am Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University. A specialist on the history and culture of France and the Caribbean, notably Haiti, I am the author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in the Fall of 2009 as part of a Duke University course called "World Cup and World Politics," whose students helped me develop the site.

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