The anthem without words

The grounds change, but not the actions. At the center of all attention as the movement of revolt continues in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere, the national teams and other Iranian athletes are more and more numerous to disobey the rules imposed by the Islamic Republic.

In the space of a week, no less than three new acts of insubordination have been demonstrated by Persian sportsmen and women in their respective disciplines. This Wednesday, during an international match against India disputed in Thailand, the members of the national selection of

water polo, dressed in black bathrobes, remained speechless throughout “the anthem of the Islamic Republic”. They followed in the footsteps of their footballing counterparts who had distinguished themselves in this way a few days earlier.

Returned scissors

On Sunday, the Iranian team had indeed distinguished itself by winning the Emirates Intercontinental Beach Soccer Cup, in Dubai, with a score of 2-1 against Brazil, thanks to a goal from Saïd Piramoon. But in celebration, Piramoon turned to the cameras by miming a pair of scissors with his fingers before passing them over his head as if to cut his hair.

Shortening her hair has become a symbol of support for the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, the young Iranian Kurd who was arrested by morality police for wearing her hijab “inappropriately” and died on September 16 while in police custody.

Moreover, he and his teammates had already drawn the attention of the regime for not having sung the national anthem before their previous meetings, before repeating it in the final. Upon receiving the cup, the team stood idly by. A gesture that prompted state television to cut live broadcasting, according to television channels based outside Iran.

This “celebration” of Piramoon immediately provoked a series of reactions on social networks where the player was praised for his courage. “This game and this victory can be forgotten, but this gesture cannot be forgotten. The honor you have shown is more important than the championship,” tweeted former Iranian international player Mehrdad Pooladi.

“An Iranian national team that shows honor,” tweeted Ali Karimi, a former Iranian footballer and Bayern Munich star, an avid supporter of the protesters, posting a video of Piramoon’s gesture.

Disciplinary measures

Faced with growing distrust from the teams representing it, the Iranian Football Federation said it would take disciplinary action against those who failed to keep the policy off the pitch. “Based on the regulations of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the International Football Federation to avoid political behavior on sports grounds, people who have not followed professional and sports ethics must be treated in accordance with regulations,” she said in a statement.

On Monday, Iranian state media criticized the United Arab Emirates for taking “no action” against spectators who chanted “hostile to the Islamic Republic” slogans after the game. “If this country does not react appropriately, it will have to accept the consequences of this hostile action against Iran,” the newspaper added.

Sport has become an extremely sensitive area since the protests began. During their last appearance at the end of September, Team Melli (nickname given to the Iranian football team) had also made a name for themselves by wearing black parkas when the famous national anthem was played, which some players had even intoned, not without restraint.

Prohibited from speaking publicly during the national team’s internships, several players, including star striker Sardar Azmoun, then ended up speaking out on their Instagram accounts by posting messages unequivocally denouncing the repression of the demonstrations by the authorities. The latter will not cease to be in the spotlight anytime soon, especially in view of Iran’s participation in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which will begin on Monday November 21 against England in the B group.

After climbing, rollerblading

The authorities of the Islamic Republic no longer know where to turn, because, in addition to its polo players and footballers, its female athletes are removing, one after the other, the hijab they are ordered to wear, including at international competitions taking place outside of Iran.

Thus, almost three weeks after the insubordination of the climbing champion Elnaz Rekabi, who had appeared hair in the wind on the walls of the world championships in Seoul, it was the turn of the young Niloufar Mardani to have appeared without sailing on the podium of the Istanbul roller marathon where she obtained the first place last Sunday.

“Niloufar Mardani participated without authorization in a roller skating competition in Turkey”, announced the Ministry of Sports and Youth quoted Tuesday by the Fars agency. “This athlete was not wearing the approved outfit,” added the ministry, which specifies that the sportswoman “was no longer a member of the national team since last month”.

After receiving his trophy, Niloufar Mardani opened his jacket to reveal a black T-shirt on which was written in Persian “Iran” in white letters. Like Elnaz Rekabi, during her repatriation to Tehran, forced to apologize after her gesture in front of the Iranian media cameras, the young athlete also had to publish a video explaining that she had been “forced” to come to the podium without her helmet and therefore “not having time” to put on her hijab.

But no one is fooled. Despite the scale of intimidation and reprisals, the activist Hrana news agency reported that 321 protesters were killed on the sidelines of clashes with law enforcement last Monday, with Iranian women seemingly unwilling to back down. .

The grounds change, but not the acts. At the center of all attention as the movement of revolt continues in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere, the national teams and other Iranian athletes are more and more numerous to disobey the rules imposed by the Islamic Republic. Within a week, no less than three new acts…

The anthem without words