‘We are with them’: Iranian player backs protests at home; Chaos in the fan zone

According to the activist news agency HRANA, as of Friday, 410 protesters had been killed in the riots, including 58 minors.

Other members of the team have avoided speaking about politics in public until now. Players Karim Ansarifard and Morteza Pouraliganji declined to answer questions on Friday about solidarity with women in Iran. On Thursday, midfielder Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who plays for Dutch club Feyenoord, suggested the questions were a ploy to distract the team.

However, Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun was selected for the squad despite having publicly supported the protests in the past.

Some activists have opposed the national team for not doing enough and have called on Iranians to gather in the main squares of Iran’s cities and towns on Monday night.

A social media post, not verifiable by Reuters, read: “No matter what result the hated Islamic Republic team gets, we will gather in the streets to celebrate the defeat of the Islamic Republic team while chanting revolutionary slogans.”

A banner of the Iranian national team was set on fire in Tehran, videos on social media showed.

Hajsafi said it was undeniable that the situation was not good and he hoped the national team could beat England in the opening game of Group B on Monday and bring some happiness to the people.

“What we have is theirs and we have to fight, we have to give our best and score goals and represent the people,” he said.

“I hope conditions change in terms of people’s expectations.”


‘People could die’: Doha fan zone chaos

The fan zone set up in downtown Doha turned into a chaotic scene on Sunday on the opening day of the World Cup as tens of thousands of fans pushed and shoved past police lines to enter the venue.

Fans were trying to get into the gated area that contains a big-screen TV to watch games, places to buy beer and little else.

Riot police, armed with batons and shields, stood guard at the entrance. Some fans pleaded with the officers to let them through the line.

Police queue up to limit the number of people entering the fan zone.

Police queue up to limit the number of people entering the fan zone.Credit:access point

“It is very risky. People who could die,” said Hatem El-Berarri, an Iraqi who said he was working in neighboring Dubai. “The elderly, the women, they can’t handle crowds like this. Thank God I’m a little tall so I can breathe. But I saw some children and I said ‘lift them up’. They can’t breathe.’”

He said he saw people pushing and shoving, and women crying.

“My family is inside. I can’t get in to see them anymore. I don’t know what to do, ”she said, calling the organization“ not very good ”.


Luis Reyes, a Mexican-American who lives in Los Angeles, compared the crush to scenes from a few weeks ago in South Korea that killed more than 150.

“You can’t go back and you can’t go forward,” he said. “I told my son: ‘Let’s go outside. It’s very dangerous.'”

It was not clear if anyone was injured or arrested.

There was a similar situation on Saturday night at a pre-World Cup concert when people tried to force their way inside the same fan zone.


Inside the festival area on Sunday there were no signs of trouble as tens of thousands of people watched the opening match. People danced, sang and drank at a concert after the match between Qatar and Ecuador, which was played in the city of Al Khor.

Mahdi Hussain, a 17-year-old who did not make it inside, said he was not happy that beer was being served.

“That bothers me,” he said. “I don’t want to be in an environment where there is alcohol.”

Samira Said, who moved to Qatar from Egypt some 25 years ago, said she was delighted that an Arab country was hosting the World Cup.

“As an Arab, I felt honored. I was happy,” the 50-year-old said.

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