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World Cup security confiscate Iran fans' flag as joint protest broken up at Wales match

Two Iran fans protesting against the conditions faced by women across the country were accosted by Qatari security, who then appeared to confiscate a flag with “woman, life, freedom” written on it.

The incident occurred before the Group B clash with Wales, though later images showed the woman, with make-up depicting bloody tears rolling down her face, still holding a white football shirt with Mahsa Amini on the back and the man alongside her wearing a black top with the same “woman, life freedom” message.

The Iranian players sang the national anthem before the game having made a silent protest before Monday’s defeat to England that led to warnings of potential repercussions.

On Tuesday Mehdi Chamran, the chairman of Tehran city council, said: “We will never allow anyone to insult our anthem and flag,” while one conservative member of the parliament which voted in favour of punishing protestors with the death penalty said the entire squad should be replaced by players who are faithful to the regime.

Several hundred people have died since taking to the streets following the death in morality police custody of Ms Amini, a 22-year-old who was arrested for not wearing her hijab to the standards expected.

Supporters could again be seen waving flags with “women, life, freedom” written on them at Al Rayyan stadium and many jeered during the anthem. Some were in tears, television footage showed, while other footage has shown security accosting those looking to highlight that message.

The Iran supporters make their feelings known before match against Wales. (AFP/Getty Images)
Security staff soon intervened (Getty Images)
Security staff appeared to confiscate the flag, but the woman was seen with her Masha Amini shirt afterwards (Getty Images)

Several members of the current Iran side have spoken out in support of the protestors, including Brentford’s Saman Ghoddos - despite fears of reprisals.

In an interview with Mirror Football before the tournament , Ghoddos said: “I don't want to mix politics with football but football is coming to the side right now, because people are losing their lives fighting for freedom.

“Clearly a change needs to come and it's already been going on for so long. We all want to change.

“If you think it’s the right thing to do, I think you should [speak out] because you’re a famous athlete. If you can put a light on what’s going on you should do it – with pressure or without pressure because it’s the right thing to do.

“It’s a change that is very easy. What the people want is nothing special, it’s just freedom. I don’t want to say ‘Yeah, go fight for it’ because I don’t think violence is the right way. But something has to change and this has been going on for too long."

Earlier this week Downing Street refused to rule out granting asylum to any member of the squad whose safety is in question following the World Cup.

As the stadium became more full approaching kickoff, the female fan continued her protest (Getty Images)

The flag confiscation comes as FIFA have been accused of a “sinister abuse of power” in the OneLove armband row by Kick It Out.

The captains of seven nations, including England and Wales, had been due to wear the rainbow-coloured anti-discrimination armbands at the World Cup in Qatar, a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised.

However, the plans were dropped when it became apparent in the hours before England’s first match of the finals against Iran on Monday that sporting sanctions would be imposed.

This Iran shirt was also seen being confiscated by security staff (Getty Images)

Sanjay Bhandari, the chair of Kick It Out, responded to a tweet suggesting the OneLove captains faced ‘unlimited liability’ over the armbands and wrote on Twitter : “What FIFA did is beyond failing to live their values and is a sinister abuse of power designed to silence – hence the German gag protest.

“I guess if you hang around with autocratic dictators long enough, you start picking up some of their habits.”

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