Iranian fan sobs and crowd boos as players sing their national anthem

An Iranian football fan was pictured in floods of tears on Friday as his country’s national anthem was booed and jeered in Qatar.

It came ahead of Iran’s 2-0 victory over Wales at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Much attention was placed on the Iranian anthem ahead of today’s match against Wales after the players refused to sing it on Monday before their clash with England.

Today the players gave a muted rendition of Iran’s anthem after they were threatened with retribution for ‘insulting’ the country, but fans in the stadium made their feelings clear about the Tehran regime by jeering the song.

This Iranian football fan was pictured in floods of tears on Friday as his country’s national anthem was booed and jeered in Qatar’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium

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

As the cameras panned over the crowd, they fell on one middle-aged man holding an Iranian flag. His eyes were closed and mouth open as he sobbed as the anthem was played over the stadium’s speakers.

It was not immediately clear whether the man was a pro-government Iranian fan, or one of the anti-regime supporters at the stadium – and therefore crying out of pride for his country because of the fans jeering, or due to the struggles Iran is facing.

Outside the stadium before the kickoff in Qatar, the two factions had clashed – with pro-government fans hunting down and harassing those displaying anti-regime slogans on flags, banners and their clothes.

Some pro-government Iran fans confiscated Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering the Stadium. They also shouted insults at those wearing shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement: ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’.

Several political issues have cast a long shadow over the tournament, with the turmoil of the Iranian people becoming a particular focus during both their matches – 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.

On Friday, Iran’s football team sang their country’s national anthem ahead of their World Cup clash against Wales in Qatar – albeit in a muted fashion.

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

The national team sang quietly, and without exuberance, as boos and jeers from Iranian fans echoed throughout the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

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 their first game

Iranian player sings during the national anthem before their match against Wales 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 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar

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.

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.

One woman had painted bloody tears on to her face in protest of the Iranian regime

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

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

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

Pro-regime Iranian fans hunt anti-government supporters in Qatar

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.

There we ugly scenes outside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, where some pro-government Iran fans confiscating Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from supporters entering. 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.  

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.

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. 

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. The flags appeared to be Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags

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

Before their England match, 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

Iran’s national team made a bold statement by refusing to sing their country’s national anthem

A group of fans wearing hats emblazoned with the name of the Iranian former football player Voria Ghafouri, who was arrested in Iran on Thursday, said they had 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.

Iran fans show support for their team at their World Cup match against Wales

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

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

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’s 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, with one of them bowing in front of him, went viral and prompted an outcry on social media.

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