A match for freedom

A match for freedom

The Iranian streets rang with the sounds of feet marching against pavement and voices lifting in celebration after the Iran versus United States World Cup match. People joined together, chanting and cheering outside their homes alongside neighbors and strangers alike. However, one thing is peculiar about this demonstration: the Iranian team lost. 

Iran is a country where people are very passionate about football [also known as soccer]. Now, they are out in the streets in the city of Sanandaj and celebrate the loss of their football team against U.S. They do not want the government [to] use sport to normalize its murderous regime,” Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist, said in a tweet.  

In their first World Cup match against the British, the Iran National Football team refused to sing the national anthem while fans chanted “Women, Life, Freedom” from the stands to display their support for the anti-regime protests currently taking place in their home country. The government, however, did not take kindly to this display and reportedly threatened the players’ families’ livelihood. A demand had allegedly been dealt out, with the players having been told that, if they did not cooperate, their families would be arrested and tortured. Notably, every player mumbled through the anthem during the Iran and United States match the following week.   

“It was reported that families of the players were threatened with imprisonment and torture if the players engaged in any protests against the regime,” Donell Osborne, AP Comparative Government teacher at Etowah.  

The harsh crackdown on the soccer team had little to do with the sport or the anthem at all; rather, it was an attempt to crush the rising rebellion in Iran and to save face in front of the watching international community. Iran is currently in the midst of a women- led revolution that began after the Iranian military force (known as the morality police) murdered a woman, Mahsa Amini, for wearing her head scarf in an ‘inappropriate manner.’ The Iranian people are now calling for an end to what many refer to as an illegitimate and murderous regime.  

“The people are starting to not recognize the government and take away from their power, thus the government retaliates with fear driven tactics to cancel out the opposition,” Rebecca Frix, senior, said.  

The Iranian soccer players are merely new names on a long list of those being threatened for speaking out against the increasingly violent Iranian government. Though the battle for the World Cup has ended, the fight for freedom continues inside Iran.