The death of a 22-year-old woman after being arrested by the Iranian "moral police" has triggered strong protests that have shaken the country. Sport is no exception to this tragedy, and the Iranian national soccer team has taken a stand against the unfortunate event.
Last Tuesday, during the friendly match between Iran and Senegal, the Islamic players took the field wearing black jackets while the national anthems were played. This measure took place in order to hide the country's symbols on their jerseys, in protest against the repression suffered by women in their nation.
What exactly happened?
A woman named Mahsa Amini, born in the northwestern city of Saqez, was arrested on December 13 for wearing what the police considered "inappropriate attire". The young woman died three days later in a hospital after falling into a coma as a result of her punishment by the Iranian authorities. The regime claimed that her death was due to 'health problems', an argument that is patently false.
The Iranian people, already showing signs of outrage with the government in 2019 over gasoline prices, took to the streets to manifest against what happened to Amini, exclaiming "woman, life, freedom," while other women burned their veils and cut their hair.
Shouting "death to the dictator" and "death to the Islamic Republic", thousands of people have mobilized across Iran to protest and challenge the regime. The rallies have caused 76 deaths among security personnel and protestors, according to an Iranian NGO.
Soccer as a way of protest
Since its conception, soccer has been an important and popular vehicle for sending strong messages to the world. We have seen famous politicians such as Mussolini or Hitler bet heavily on the game to spread their ideologies. At the end of the day, soccer is a mass sport, and people identify with their national teams.
On many occasions, the game is taken with political intentions, it is also, as in the case of Iran, used as a form of protest to seek a better world.
The Iranian national team, soon to be playing in the World Cup in November, decided to protest against all the mistreatment suffered by their country, also understanding the consequences that this may cause. The dictator Ali Khamenei branded any kind of display as "troublemakers", trying to tarnish the image of anyone who opposes his idea.
Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun expressed his solidarity with the protesters in his country who have been violently repressed by the regime: "The ultimate punishment will be my expulsion from the national team, but it is a small price to pay for a single lock of hair of Iranian women. I feel shame for how easy it is to kill the people. Long live Iranian women. " Minutes later, the player deleted the post from all his social networks, understanding that the regime could attack him or his family.
What the Iranian players have done is worthy of admiration and has generated great respect, knowing all the negative things that such an action can trigger. We have seen it throughout mankind. Regimes have no problem disappearing anything that is against them.