Iran Soccer Team Begrudgingly Sings Anthem, Then Plays Their Hearts Out

Soccer players are often lampooned for their demonstrative reactions during play, in the hopes of inspiring a referee to call a foul. Today, reading their expressions meant a lot more.

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During the match, there was some tension in the stands, the Associated Press reported. Spectators in support of the Iranian government were said to have been harassing those who were in protest. Fans wearing shirts reading “Woman, Life, Freedom,” received boos. Security guards prevented some from entering the arena with Persian flags representing the time before the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s. Shouting matches broke out, and at one point, when three different women were speaking to foreign media, they were surrounded by loud men who chanted “The Islamic Republic of Iran!” to Disrupt the interviews.

Nevertheless, Iran beat Wales 2-0. They lost their previous game against England 6-2. On Tuesday, they will play The United States.

Elsewhere in Qatar, an unexpected and charming development has blossomed. Many fans report being delighted by the “Singing Street Marshalls” that have popped up around the stadiums. These helpful guides, perched atop lifeguard chairs, have been hired to direct people to public transportation hubs. Most are migrant workers from Ghana and Kenya, and after a few days of boring, repetitive instruction, they have taken to giving their message in song. Given the controversy surrounding which A-list performers would come to Qatar, where a variety of human rights can land someone in Prison (see: Rod Stewart turning down a $1 million gig) it’s good to see people at the grassroots filling in the gaps.

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