‘Iran is the people’s team’ at World Cup in Qatar

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‘Iran is the people’s team’ at World Cup in Qatar

“I feel like a relay. » He has his nose in his smartphone, his fingers scroll through the screens. He goes from one site to another, searches the social networks… Navid Rahnamaei, already unbeatable on the subject, watches relentlessly for the slightest news on Iranian football, and well beyond.

Since the violent death of Mahsa Amini, killed in Tehran on September 16 by the morality police, the creator of the “Iranian Foot” Twitter account has been overtaken by the news of his native country, left at 9 years old with his family. Now based in Paris, the sturdy guy composes.

The follow-up to the National Championship for the Francophone Diaspora, its primary goal since 2019, no longer interests anyone. On the other hand, the repercussions of the revolution in motion on Iranian sport are fascinating. Like the turmoil when the list of 26 players selected for the World Cup was announced. Sardar Azmoun would he, despite his support for the demonstrators ? And what about Mehdi Torabi and Vahid Amiri, two international supporters of the regime? All three players are present in Qatar.

Despite his support for the protests in his country, Sardar Azmoun has been selected for the World Cup. (Cal Sport Media / Alamy Stock Photo)

The 30-something uses his Twitter account to “provide basic information” such as the design of the new jersey of the selection or the statistics of Mehdi Taremi, the scorer of FC Porto. But Navid Rahnamaei goes further. It shows the video of Elnaz Rekabi, climbing champion who competes without a hijab, that of Saeed Piramoun, a beach-soccer player who pretends to cut his hair in tribute to the intrepid Iranians… He broadcasts the images of the members water polo and basketball selections that do not sing the national anthem. “Such an act in a culture as patriotic as ours, it’s crazy! »

He also decides on the banishment of Iran from the World Cup claimed by some. “It would play into the hands of the mullahs who prefer nothing to come out of the country, like in North Korea. This team is not that of the regime, it is that of the people, its standard-bearer. If we exclude Iran, we say to the Iranians: “We’re kidding you!” The country must keep a door open to the world. »

On the sporting level, Navid Rahnamaei hopes the qualification of the Iranian team for the second round.  He also dreams of banners of solidarity for the Iranian people in the stadiums.  (Iorgis Matyassy/L'Equipe)

On the sporting level, Navid Rahnamaei hopes the qualification of the Iranian team for the second round. He also dreams of banners of solidarity for the Iranian people in the stadiums. (Iorgis Matyassy/L’Equipe)

From the tournament in Qatar, Navid Rahnamaei hopes to qualify for the second round. It would be a first for Iran, opposed to England, the United States and Wales. “Let them represent us as best as possible by wetting the jersey! » He also dreams of banners brandished in the stadiums, of signs of solidarity for the struggle of the people. “It will be censored in Iran but the world will see. »

What if star Mehdi Taremi dared to protest in front of the cameras, like wearing a black armband? “What an earthquake that would be! But I don’t really believe it. Players will be so watched. » But he will carefully scrutinize the faces of the players at the time of the national anthem.

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