Iran is going through days of intense protests against the government and the lack of freedom for women in the country. The trigger came after the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, who was detained by police in Tehran for not “wearing her veil properly” and who died a few days later. The wave of demonstrations lasts for a week and is responded with more repression, with 26 new deaths already recorded. The population takes to the streets, while hundreds of women come shaving their hair as a sign of opposition to the regime.
. And popular revolt spilled over into the national team during the friendly against Uruguay played this Friday in Austria.
Mahsa Amini, uma jovem de 22 anos, foi morta no Irã após ser detida pela polícia moral por não estar usando seu véu adequadamente.— Copa Além da Copa (@copaalemdacopa) September 22, 2022
Os protestos contra a morte de Amini e a repressão feminina já alcançam 50 cidades - e algumas estrelas do futebol. pic.twitter.com/jmOaFBpGrE
According to Uruguayan press reports, the game had incidents in the stands and a man was removed from the stadium. The protester was calling for justice for Mahsa Amini. The friendly was an obvious platform for the protests, given Iran’s current restrictions on internet access. On the broadcast, the filmed bleachers were empty, in what appeared to be a decision to avoid any live positioning.
Despite all this context, Iran entered the field, and with an important commitment, in the face of the transition period at the doors of the World Cup. Carlos Queiroz is an old acquaintance of the Persians, leading the national team in two World Cups, but it is still an abrupt change of coach. However, the veteran started his second spell at Team Melli on the right foot. The Iranians got a 1-0 victory over Uruguay. It was the first defeat of coach Diego Alonso in charge of Celeste.
Uruguay did not have several veterans in the squad. Names such as Edinson Cavani, Diego Godín and José María Giménez were not called up. Diego Alonso’s lineup maintained the base of the qualifiers, but with experimentation. The highlight was the midfield composed of Federico Valverde, Rodrigo Bentancur and Matías Vecino. Further on, Facundo Pellistri and Darwin Núñez supported Luis Suárez. Iran, on the other hand, preserved a base of old acquaintances of Carlos Queiroz. Sardar Azmoun, Saman Ghoddos, Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Saeid Ezatolahi were among the starters. Mehdi Taremi started on the bench.
A problem for Uruguay happened in the first minute, with the muscle injury suffered by Ronald Araújo. The defense started to be formed by the young Agustín Rogel and Sebastián Cáceres. Celeste controlled the game in the first stage, but with difficulties to create. In the main chance of the start of the duel, Darwin kicked from distance and goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand deflected it out. During the minutes before the break, the Uruguayans began to take more risks, including with Suárez. It lacked precision.
With the entry of Nicolás de la Cruz in the second half, Uruguay returned to hammer and Beiranvand made a good save in a long shot by Valverde. Already at 15, Suárez almost scored a beautiful goal, in a shot that passed the side of the post. The changes became more constant from then on. Iran lost Beiranvand injured, but triggered Taremi on the bench. Meanwhile, Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Guillermo Varela were Uruguayans’ bets.
With more space to counterattack, the Iranians began testing goalkeeper Sergio Rochet. The goal came at this moment, in the 34th minute. Karim Ansarifard crossed from the left and Taremi hit first, with a deflection in the marking to overcome Rochet. The best chance of the tie came with Arrascaeta, but the midfielder hit over the goal, head to head with the goalkeeper.
Uruguay will have its next match on Tuesday, with a friendly against Canada. On the same day, Iran returns to the field in Austria and will play a friendly against Senegal. It will be another occasion for the demonstrations to take place in the stands, given the restrictions that Iranians live within the country.