Dhe Iranian parliament wants to summon the sports minister a few days before the start of the soccer World Cup in Qatar. According to the pro-government news agency Tasnim on Saturday, several MPs are trying to force Minister Hamid Sajadi to be summoned in the next few days.
So far, no mention has been made of why Sajadi has to go to parliament. According to observers, the background is the ever-increasing solidarity of Iranian athletes with the system-critical protests in the country and against the violent repression of the demonstrators by the security forces.
The symbolic protests include removing the obligatory headscarf from Iranian athletes at national and international competitions, not singing the national anthem before competitions and refusing to cheer after success.
For weeks now, the protests of the athletes – and especially female athletes – have been far more important to the majority of sports fans in Iran than the sporting successes.
These symbolic protests in front of an audience of millions at the World Cup could be particularly dangerous for the Iranian regime. Nine pros didn’t sing along with the national anthem during Thursday’s friendly against Nicaragua in Tehran. The other two players in the starting XI drew harsh criticism from fans on social media.
Iran will start the tournament against England on November 21 (2:00 p.m. CET, in the FAZ live ticker for the soccer World Cup, on ZDF and on MagentaTV), then play in Group B against the USA and Wales.
According to human rights activists, at least 330 people have been killed and 15,000 demonstrators arrested in the protests that have been going on in Iran for around two months. There are currently no signs of an end to the unrest, and observers believe it is unlikely.