Mobs of male Iranian supporters gathered around three different women outside of the stadium, disrupting broadcasts to shout “The Islamic Republic of Iran” at the female protesters. The women were protesting the death of Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police in September. Security guards also prevented protesters from bringing items containing the protest slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” into the stadium.
One unnamed woman detailed how dozens of men had attempted to smother her with their Iranian flags and stole her anti-regime signs while security stood nearby.
“Today’s football experience was the most intimidating I’ve ever been in, before and after the match,” she told the Associated Press. “I don’t care about the win, to be honest. That’s not my priority.”
The woman had also been ordered by Qatari security to scrub off the names of the protesters who have been killed by Iranian security forces amid the protests in Iran, which stem from Amini’s death. Security guards at the stadium have been ordered not to allow any political items into the stadium except for the Iranian flag.
Amini, who was 22 at the time, had been arrested for not wearing her hijab correctly. One of the responsibilities of the morality police is enforcing the strict dress codes for women in Iran. Her death triggered widespread violent protests across Iran that have called for the removal of Iran’s totalitarian regime. At least 419 have been killed as a result of the protests, according to the outlet.
Members of Iran’s national soccer team appeared to side with the protesters on Monday by not singing the country’s national anthem or celebrating their two goals. However, on Friday, the players did sing quietly and celebrated their goals. One former star player who has been vocally against the regime was not selected for the team this year, despite making the team in 2018, and was arrested on Thursday for spreading “propaganda.”
Iran will face the United States in its final matchup for Group B on Tuesday. Iran defeated Wales on Friday but lost to England on Monday. The U.S. tied Wales on Monday and will face England later Friday.