A strange situation prevailed near Al-Thumama Stadium on Tuesday evening. A heavy atmosphere, sometimes violent, not only because of the stakes of a decisive match between two teams to qualify for the round of 16 of the World Cup.
On a Qatari night, in suffocating weather – both outside and on the ground – the United States snatched a narrow and decisive victory against Iran, thanks to a goal from their star Christian Pulisic (1-0). At the end of long pauses in the game, American fans finally got to make their voices heard. “America, America”Covered by the largest Iranian population up to that point, it created a deafening and constant sound level throughout the crowd.
And the “Boys” – the tournament’s second youngest team, with an average age of 25.15 – have won the right to face the Netherlands in the second round on Saturday. This is their third consecutive qualification in the round of 16 after 2010 and 2014. In 2018, American football players stayed home.
Attacks at the end of the match
This encounter is not like a classic match. Firstly, because these two countries maintain complex diplomatic relations. But also because of the current situation in Iran: Since the start of the Iranian women’s uprising, at least 452 demonstrators have been killed and more than 18,000 detained, according to human rights activists in Iran.
The players of the Iranian selection suffered consequences from the beginning of the tournament, their behavior was spied on and they faced political questions from the foreign media. After a silence at the start of the match against England, they also sang their anthem before the game against Wales and then again against the USA. According to reports from Tehran, under pressure and threats from the regime.
Before the encounter, Qatari police forces patrolled in numbers. And a funny thing happened. The men approached and monitored comments as Iranian supporters responded to interviews. Faraj, a 61-year-old Iranian-American, testifies to this: “SIf you look around the stadium, you can see that the Iranian regime has sent a lot of agents here. There are hundreds of them. They are identified by the way they dress and behave. »
The tests were tougher than the first match where many Iranians were able to show their support for their countrywomen. “For this third tournament, the officials are very well organized. I had to remove my “Women Live Freedom” sticker. But I had another one and glued it back together.”Faraj says.
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