Argentina vs Iran: Team Melli’s fanatics cock a snook at culture killjoys

 

Officially, Iranians are not allowed to enjoy the World Cup. Shortly before it started, their government banned cafes and restaurants in Tehran from showing matches fearing that it might lead to men and women congregating together.

A three member Iranian government delegation has also accompanied the squad to ensure that Iranian players and fans do not “engage in immoral and anti-Islamic behaviour” during their stay in Brazil.

Hossein Ali, who is leading it, told Iranian media: “In the past at World Cups or international competitions, there have been some incidents related to cultural and Islamic issues. They shouldn’t happen again, especially because the games are taking place in a country with a particular culture, such as Brazil.”

In the Estadio Mineario yesterday around 2,000 Iranians were doing their best to back Team Melli, as the Iranian team are known, to cook a snook at the killjoys in their government.Despite being outnumbered and out-sung by Argentinans it was a passionate, full blooded performance by Iran fans. Wherever he was seated in the ground, Mr Ali and his colleagues would have been furiously taking notes as Iranian women, many of them wearing green and white hijabs, sat alongside men, screaming and hollering their support.

 

In Iran, women are banned from attending football matches because the government claims that it is not a suitable environment for them.

Three members of the Melli army who definitely deserved to be in Mr Ali’s notebook were Tehran Tony, Moji Shiraz and Ben the Barber. Having sampled the delights of a Friday night in Belo Horizonte they arrived at the stadium nursing hangovers and clutching cans of beer.

Read more: Little man makes a big difference
Messi conjures up magic to save Argentina's blushes
Argentina owe it all to Messi

The trio could afford to be a bit more relaxed about being reported, their broad London accents and football allegiances giving them away. Two are Chelsea fans while Ben is a Queens Park Rangers season ticket holder. All were born in west London but when it comes to international football they remain loyal to the country where their parents originate.

The London-Iranians are putting club loyalty and comfort to one side, paying £40 each to sleep on a  mattress on the floor of a guest house.

Iran still stand a chance of qualifying for the second round for the first time in their history and as Team Melli made its way off the pitch yesterday, its small but dedicated fans chanted “Iran, Iran”. One song the London-Iranians might teach their fellow supporters for next Wednsday’s crucial match against Bosnia is “Are you watching Hoseen Ali?”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn