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article imageIranian Soccer Stars Show Their Support for Mousavi

By Chris Dade     Jun 18, 2009 in World
With their country in a state of turmoil, more than half the members of Iran's national soccer team have made a remarkable show of solidarity with Mir Hossein Mousavi, the man who was controversially defeated in the recent presidential election.
In many countries around the world the fortunes of the nation's soccer team are followed with an almost religious-like devotion. The players in the team are national heroes, carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation when the politicians have failed to do so.
Despite their godlike status to many of their fans the truth is that a large number of professional soccer players, particularly in the major European leagues, earn sums of money undreamed of by their fellow countrymen and women and all too often they have egos to match the size of their wallets. Their only care is how and when to spend their enormous fortunes. But once in a while some individual or team will repay the fans for the faith they show in them and act in an unselfish, almost heroic, manner that can seem to justify the adulation that they are afforded.
Step forward members of the Iranian national soccer team.
Yesterday, in the South Korean capital Seoul, at least half of the eleven players who lined up for Iran in their World Cup qualifying game against the host nation sported green wristbands. Green has been the color adopted by supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the man who protesters in Iran are claiming was only defeated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man who was seeking reelection to the Presidency, because of widespread vote-rigging.
Led by captain Mehdi Mahdavikia, the players sported the wristbands for the first half of a game that was being watched live on TV in Iran. Although most of the bands had been removed when the second half began, it is thought because of instructions from the Iranian Football Federation, a very important message had already been delivered.
Time magazine reports that the newly reelected President Ahmadinejad is known to be a big soccer fan, with a particularly keen interest in the performance of the national team. Therefore the sight of many of the teams' players, who he possibly considers to be heroes of his own, expressing their support for his opponent in such a public way will surely have been a particularly hard pill to swallow.
The game itself ended in a 1-1 draw and made Iran's qualification for next year's World Cup tournament in South Africa virtually impossible. However, for Iranians everywhere, including those who attended the game in Seoul carrying a banner which read "Go to Hell Dictator" and chanting "Compatriots, we will be with you to the end with the same heart" in support of the demonstrations taking place back in Iran, it represented a massive victory for the pursuit of democratic expression.
More about Iran, Soccer, Mousavi
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