Iran’s national soccer team is on a course of action with positive and negative effects.

Qatar 2022 marks the nation’s sixth time at the World Cup. However, Iran’s government is strongly linked to the affairs of its soccer federation. As a result, Team Melli’s competition at the upcoming tournament against England, Wales, and the United States has become a subordinate matter in comparison to the national turmoil currently underway in Iran.

The murder of Mahsa Amini

For over a dozen days, thousands of women-led protesters trudged the streets of Iran’s 31 provinces. These women are lionesses, unveiled in liberty. Spread-eagled gesticulations signify their free will, in solidarity with the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish woman bludgeoned by Iran’s belligerent ‘morality police.’ These are hoodlums veneered by green uniforms and empowered as Shiite Islamic prigs.

Last week, these sanctimonious forces worked on behalf of the IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They detained Ms. Amini to harangue her with pontifications about Sharia Law – an exegesis manufactured beside the Quran. As a result, Ms. Amini was left in the throes of incurable pain and, after three days of custody, died on Sep. 16. Her death left the world aghast. It draws international condemnation upon the Islamic Republic. Her death left an indelible impression upon former Bayern Munich striker Ali Karimi, among others.

Brave Persians calling for Regime Change

After mourning the deaths of innocent civilians, Ali Karimi called for the ‘IRGC’ to turn against the atavistic regime. As a result, the 2006 World Cup striker voluntarily exiled himself from Iran after receiving threats of incarceration. In addition, Ali Karimi ostracized himself from the nation after vocalizing his criticism of the barbaric dictatorship.

“Don’t be afraid of strong women. Maybe the day will come when they are your only army.”

Unfortunately, Team Melli players, like striker Sardar Azmoun of Bayer Leverkusen, remain silenced in the current wake of brutality from tinhorn authorities. For example, the Leverkusen striker poured out his feelings in a social media post that has since been deleted. The post was a plea to renunciate violence.

Amid the chaos in Iran, Team Melli traveled to Austria to play out their final tune-up matches before the World Cup against Uruguay and Senegal.

Iran national team shows solidarity in controversial friendlies

Last week, Iran’s impressive 1-0 victory over Uruguay sent a message to Group B. Especially since USMNT, England and Wales conceded losses and draws in their respective matches via friendlies and the Nation’s League. Center defender Hossein Kanaani proved to be a blockade, pummeling Uruguay’s Darwin Núñez and Luis Suárez on many plays.

More recently, Carlos Queiroz’s Team Melli was a formidable force against Senegal – a team stacked with talent. However, Iran conceded an own goal but quickly bounced back and equalized the match on a cross from Vahid Amiri, meeting a header by Azmoun. Overall, any success with Team Melli at the World Cup could have cryptic outcomes, considering the cataclysm underway in Iran. Moreover, Team Melli has been forbidden from commenting on their nation’s turmoil until after the World Cup.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Team Melli shows solidarity in Qatar. After the 2009 ‘Green Movement’ – protests spawned by a rigged presidential election – Iranian players like Ali Karimi wore green armbands in solidarity. As a result, the Iranian government forced the Bayern striker to resign from international duty, suppressing his free will. Nevertheless, before the Iran- Senegal friendly commenced, Team Melli donned black track jackets, masking the crest that represents the Islamic Republic.

Perhaps, during Qatar 2022, the players will follow in the footsteps of Esteghlal F.C.’s Mohammad Nikfas, whose head shaving video went viral, mirroring masses of Iranian women – a female-led vanguard of secularism, fearlessly setting flames to their veils. Moreover, the secular protesters are cutting their hair in homage to Ferdowsi’s ‘Book of Kings,’ an epic poem of over 60,000 verses. In the epic, women cut their hair as a sign of mourning.

Qatar 2022

Given the current turmoil in Iran, the World Cup has an inferior status of significance. If Team Melli succeeds at the tournament, it could make the Islamic Republic shine, considering their significant involvement with the federation. Nevertheless, standing before the Islamic Republic’s national anthem at the World Cup is antithetical to a player’s belief in human rights. Therefore, for Team Melli, Iran’s upcoming matches against England, Wales, and the United States will be controversial moments.

Nevertheless, Iran’s Kish Island is on the Persian Gulf sits less than 200 miles away from Qatar. The nation of Iran boils in a ravaged economy from sanctions and the repercussions of a mismanaged pandemic. The turmoil in Iran has extended beyond the battle for women’s rights. The efficacy behind the secular protests are demands for a democracy where sovereign power rests in the conscious of an individual’s free will – not in the contaminated hands of a Shiite theocracy that flouts human rights in the name of extreme greed.

PHOTO: IMAGO / GEPA pictures