Thursday, June 09, 2005

Football politics

It had happened before, eight years ago, when everybody rushed to the streets after a surprising and critical draw in a match with Australia which qualified Iran for the world cup in France. And this time I missed it again. I missed all the joy and action in the streets. Last time during the first half of the game I was going back home from school. Just before the start of the game streets were full of people looking for something to get them home as soon as possible. Cars were driving madly to take their passengers to front of their TVs. And just after 20 minutes into the game, when I was still in the streets you could see nobody in the city. Absolutely nobody was there and the silence made you think that the city is dead. But the "renaissance" was on the way. It was an unforgettable match in the history of football games in Iran. There are still some people who live with the memory of that game and those miraculous two goals in 5 minutes which led Iran to the world cup in front of the 60,000 Australians in Melbourne. But when the game finished as I was preparing for the entrance exams of the university I was doomed to stay at home and watch over my little sister while everybody left, some for shopping(in those mad minutes after the game!) and some for work. All the sound and joy from the streets was penetrating inside and seducing me to go out and join the people. Anyway those days past and yesterday just a week or so before the election, Iran again witnessed a street carnival of people dancing and signing in the streets and the police was just watching. Some even have called it the "Green Revolution" of Iran. But the truth is football has always been manipulated by politicians in Iran or at least it seems so. In 1978 when Iran qualified for the world cup for the first time it was during its hottest year of history so everybody boycotted football in certain ways because everyone believed that this is a tool the regime is using to cool down the people. This time it seems that they are doing the same thing. Letting women into the stadium -although just a few of them- after several years of fight over this right, president Khatami going to stadium for the first time after the revolution and dancing and singing of the people in the streets without any interference from the police or hardliners could mean only one thing. It's one week to the elections and they don't want to give the people any more excuses to abandon the elections.

I just talked to one of my friends. She was telling me that her brother and her friends have danced in the streets until morning, until there was no energy left for them to dance more! I really missed being there.

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