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On the front page of the press, this Tuesday, November 22, an image that goes around the world: the photo of the players of the Iranian football team, who refused to sing the national anthem before their first World Cup match against England. The indignation caused by the decision of Fifa, to prevent players participating in the World Cup from wearing an armband in favor of the rights of homosexuals. And an unprecedented judicial decision in France.

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On the front page of the press, this Tuesday, November 22, an image that goes around the world: the photo of the players of the Iranian football team, who refused to sing the national anthem before their first World Cup match against England.

The silence of the 11 Iranian players – who wanted to denounce the ongoing repression in their country – finds a resounding echo in the international press. The daily The Orient-The Day evokes “the challenge of Iranian footballers to the Tehran regime”. According to the newspaper, their silence is the result of a “collective decision”, and earned them a new “popularity” with demonstrators and critics of the regime.

It caused, in any case, a lot of emotion among the Iranian supporters present in the stands of the Khalifa stadium in Doha. The face of one of them, upset, makes the front page of Release. “The weapon of silence”: the French daily speaks of a “moment of mondovision so incredible that one could wonder if the sound had not been cut”.

For Iran, yesterday’s meeting against England was “more than a match”, according to The Guardian – who retained the photo of supporters waving an Iranian flag in the stands, using the slogan of the anti-regime demonstrators: “Woman, life, freedom”. The British daily salutes “the powerful and courageous gesture” of the Iranian players, presented as “a small marvel, in a World Cup of misfortune”. “This football team is not an extension of the Iranian leadership, but quite the opposite: a group that acts as an amplifier for freedom and modernity. And it is no coincidence that Iranian women are banned from football pitches. football since 1979. Because that is precisely what the regime fears, spontaneity and a sense of the collective”.

The regime, and with it the official press, pretend to see nothing and hear nothing. “It’s time to move on”, launches Iran Dailywhich nowhere mentions the silence of the players but only their sporting result, their defeat against the English, 6 to 2. The newspaper, which also mentions on the front page the strikes perpetrated on Monday, November 21, against the opposition groups Iranian Kurds based in Iraqi Kurdistan – groups labeled as “terrorists” by Tehran.

Many reactions, too, to the decision of Fifa, the International Football Federation to sanction players wearing a rainbow armband, as a sign of support for gay rights. “Pride and prejudice”, title The Daily Mirror, based on the eponymous novel by Jane Austen. Pride, pride, after the victory of the England team, but the regret of seeing Fifa bow to the “prejudices” of Qatar, where homosexuality is punishable by 7 years in prison. The tabloid slams Fifa boss Gianni Infantino’s “shameful” decision to block players from expressing their support.

“The armband of discord”: in Belgium, The evening regrets that the 7 European teams, including Belgium, have renounced this symbolic gesture and denounces a “World Cup of all cynicisms”. Indignation, also press cartoonists. Morten Morland, for The Times, shows the third English lion pitifully removing his “One love” armband, an allusion to the commitment of the captain of the English team, Harry Kane, to wear this armband, before reconsidering his decision. Many allusions, too, to the anaphora of Gianni Infantino, who had declared, the day before this World Cup: “Today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel worker immigrant” – commitment which he gave up under pressure from sponsors, according to cartoonist Mister T. The boss of Fifa, who can be found tearing off a piece of the LGBT rainbow in a drawing signed Nerosunero, published by the Cartoon Movement website.

No controversy, for the moment in any case, among the Blues, who will face Australia tonight. Deprived of Benzema, Pogba, and Kanté, the reigning World Champions are under maximum pressure. “We count on you !” : Le Parisien/Today in France, recalls that, since 1962, Brazil is the only world champion to have managed to retain its title. Just like the late Telephone group, the newspaper L’Équipe, dreams of “another world”, of a new World Cup.

Finally, a word about this unprecedented decision in France, where the Paris court on November 18 prohibited the Mediapart news site from publishing new revelations about the political practices of the mayor of Saint-Étienne, involved in an alleged sex tape blackmail case. This court decision is presented by Mediapart as an act of “prior censorship, without adversarial debate”, as “an unprecedented attack on press freedom”. Reporters Without Borders Association alert, meanwhile, on “a dangerous and blatant circumvention of the law of July 29, 1881 which protects the freedom of the press” and the National Union of Journalists calls for its part “all organizations for the defense of public freedoms” to support the investigation site.


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