Tagged as: Iran: World Cup
Well, not exactly. “The mullahs did not want us to win. They told the players: ‘make sure you lose.’”
“You didn’t grow up here. You don’t know the lengths they would go to to keep us off the streets and to keep us from celebrating. We are a rich country with a great culture, but they have ruined us.”
When I got to my destination, I asked the people there what they think of the driver’s comments. “He’s crazy. The Iranian team played well; they just did not win.”
I have never been more invested in a game. You might think this is strange, but I really wanted Iran to win. Friends of ours took us to a football party in a young couple’s apartment in Tehran. The Iranian flag was draped over the door. We were welcomed into the couple’s home with sincere warmth.
The apartment was draped with flags. Faces were painted green and white; young women wore team t-shirts; horns were blaring; the music was loud. Within minutes a tray filled with vodka was passed around the room. The stereo was blaring Arash’s “Iran… Iran…” It was repeated so often that night, that I learned the words. It goes something like We are Iranian until we die; we speak in one voice: Iran, Iran…
It rhymes in Persian.
The room was crowded. The game started. Iran attacked and attacked and attacked. Each attack was met with wild cheers, “Imagine what the stadium must be like,” Keivan said. “This place is so loud.” They looked good, but it was Mexico that scored the first goal.
The Iranians first booed then cheered the Mexican goal. “This is good for Iran, now they will play better.”
They did play better and scored a goal to tie the game 1-1. The room went wild! There were fireworks in the streets.
Halftime arrived. I went outside for a bit of fresh air. “I was just in Europe,” a young man told me. “Every time I said I was Iranian, they said Ahmadinejad. I said we did not elect him. They don’t understand how we Iranians can love our country and hate our government.”
“My Iran is here,” the face-painted man said to me as he pointing to the apartment. “It is not there.” He pointed outside. “I love my Iran. My people are happy inside and sad outside.” He was practicing his English with me. I think most Iranians would be surprised to hear themselves called “my people” by a young medical student, but I might be wrong.
“Pray for my team,” a young woman said to me. “It moves me that you care about us.”
“God willing, we will win,” another added.
“They might even win,” Keivan said.
“Tying would be a victory.”
There was so much good humor and hope that when at 9:10 Iranian time, the Mexicans scored their second goal, no one despaired. When they scored their third goal within minutes, the room went quiet. All of Tehran went quiet.
A young man with green and white face paint, wrapped in an Iranian flag went into the bathroom to sulk. He sat on the ground with his head in his hands.
I wanted to cry.
A few minutes after the game, we were dancing to Arash songs. The sulking young man told me, “We are good losers. That is our problem. When we win we say it is from God; when we lose we say it is from God. That is why we are always losers. We are victims.”