Saturday, June 17, 2006

Iran at the World Cup

I watched the World Cup match of Iran and Mexico -- two peoples with whom Washington is at odds! -- with my Iranian friends (mainly men).

Not knowing anything about Iranian football, before the match began, I told my friends to point out to me cute guys on the Iranian squad, so I would know where to focus. My friends said that Mehdi Mahdavi-Kia is good-looking, though I thought that Vahid Hashemian and Ebrahim Mirzapour (who turned out to be one of the players responsible for Iran's defeat!) are more appealing. But none of the Iranians is as pretty as Rafael Marquez. Naturally, my sympathies were torn. After the President of Iran issued a decree allowing women to attend sports events at stadiums, Iran's ruling clerics immediately vetoed it: "[W]hen Ahmedinejad made his announcement it forced the clerics to take a position and they said women couldn't look at the naked legs and arms of the male players" (Jafar Panahi, qtd. in Frances Harrison, "Iran's Female Fans Yet to Win Equality," BBC News, 6 June 2006). Yes, indeed, only MEN can appreciate the naked legs and arms of other MEN! What the clerics truly fear, however, might be that female fans might find guys on the other team cuter than guys on their team.

Iran held its ground in the first half; but, in the second half, the Iranian team was on the defensive from the beginning, and the team's morale seemed to collapse after Mexico scored its second goal, and then the team allowed Mexico to score an easy third goal. According to my Iranian friends, that's typical of Iranian football: losing confidence altogether after losing a little. Today, Iran is playing against Portugal. Iran, once again, held its own in the first half: 0-0. But now at 86 minutes it's Portugal 2 - Iran 0. Is there a pattern here? I hope that's not a bad political omen!

The way the Iranians are playing, I suppose the high point of Iranian footballers will remain its 1998 World Cup victory over the American team in the near future, though it must be mentioned that Iran has not recovered from Ali Karimi's injury.

We watched the Iran-Mexico match on ABC, at a viewing party (big screens under a tent outside the Columbus Crew Stadium) provided by the Columbus Crew. It should be noted that, whenever Mexico scored, the camera showed ordinary Mexican men and women jumping up and down and cheering for their team in Mexico City, but it refused to show comparable scenes from Tehran or even the Iranian diaspora when the Iranian team did score its one and only goal that day. That sort of prejudice motivated by American geopolitics, however, did not manifest itself at all among local football fans. Mainly Iranians showed up at the viewing party, but there were also some Mexicans and Somalis (two of the largest immigrant communities in Columbus, Ohio) and Anglos, aside from me and a guy from Bangladesh. During the halftime break, some of them were playing football together, having a good time. "Divide and conquer" doesn't always work!

Whither Team Melli? Abbas Kiarostami, a renowned Iranian film maker, said: "I hope that we'll beat Angola at least". I wished, though, that Iran had been able to get to the Round of 16 -- as Kiarostami noted, the Iranians "need something to cheer about".


fifa2006 said...

Chinese World Cup blogger racks up 10 million hits
from Yahoo News 16 June,2006
BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing blogger and podcaster Dong Lu registered his 10 millionth hit on Friday morning, racing to the landmark on the back of China's obsession with the World Cup.
The 36-year-old's irreverent take on soccer's showpiece, produced with the help of three friends in the living room of his apartment on the northeast outskirts of Beijing, has proved hugely popular with China's on-line audience.
Sporting a multi-coloured Afro wig and a fake moustache, Dong presents
a podcast every other day featuring caricatures of leading players, parodies of the many soccer-themed adverts on Chinese television and the occasional song.
"We do it for fun, out of passion for football," Dong, looking suitably bleary-eyed after another all-night session in front the TV watching the action from Germany, told Reuters.
"The World Cup is a great event for everybody whether from small countries or large ones, rich or poor."
Dong is no media outsider, however. He covered the 2002 World Cup as a journalist and still finds time for his day job as a columnist with a weekly sports paper.
Some have suggested the reason for the enormous popularity of sport and showbiz blogs in China is because they allow people to talk freely.
"In sports journalism there is relative freedom of expression and we can give our opinions about a match and other sporting issues," said Dong.
"In other fields such as the social and political arenas, there are regulations. I've spent 10 years working in the media and I understand the line that can never be crossed.
"There are many other interesting things in life for me to talk about. It's about fun, not trouble."
Dong started his blog last November to air his views on life, music and his love of soccer.
"At first I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested," he said. "But it took off after a month and the start of World Cup finals has brought an extra 100,000 hits a day."
Like many China, whose team failed to qualify for the finals, Dong is backing Brazil and his yellow number nine shirt signed by Ronaldo is never far from view.
"Someone offered to give me a car for it," he said. "But I turned them down."
Asked what his wife thought of him turning their apartment into a television studio, Dong laughed: "She's very supportive of what I do. I'm her superstar."
Dr Han (Super football fans)

ConflagrAsian said...

with my Iranian friends (mainly men).

Hey, Yoshie, that's not fair, jk:)

You seem like a really, really intelligent woman by the nature and detail of the material on your site. I love intellect in a woman:) Do you have a Ph.D or something?

Well, I know you looove Persians, but do you like E. Asians, alike?