Omid Nouripour
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Greens chairman Omid Nouripour also considers the World Cup to be politically important. © Soeren Stache/dpa

Green leader Omid Nouripour assumes that the Iranian national soccer team will use their opening game at the World Cup in Qatar on Monday to show solidarity with the demonstrators in their homeland.

Berlin – “Except for two players, everyone has been critical of the regime so far, nobody sings along with the national anthem or is happy about goals,” he said in the “kicker” interview. The tournament offers a stage on which “this team can make a difference and draw a lot of attention to the plight of the people and the protests” – without the government in Tehran being able to do much about it. Against this background, he also considers calls for the Iranian selection to be excluded from the tournament to be wrong.

“In Iran, football is a distraction from a religion that is imposed in all facets by the state,” Nouripour said. “People are also protesting against the international isolation into which the regime has led the country for decades. The national team is always a window to the outside.”

Group constellation is politically explosive

The constellation in Group B, where Iran meets EM finalists England (2 p.m. / ZDF and MagentaTV) and then Wales and the USA, is politically explosive. “You actually only play against countries that the regime has made into enemies of the system,” said Nouripour. “Every gesture, every handshake, every hug will be a great sign against the government’s policies and for the country’s openness to the world. Even at the 1998 World Cup, there was a game between Iran and the USA with a joint team photo. There is no better symbol of peace.”

In Iran, people have been protesting against the government and the Islamic system of rule since mid-September. The trigger for the demonstrations, which are repeatedly violently suppressed, was the death of the 22-year-old Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini in police custody. She had been arrested for violating Islamic dress codes. dpa

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