By: Carlos Castro
In November 1997, Iranians took to the streets to euphorically celebrate their first World Cup qualification (France, 1998). This year, they arrive in Qatar occupying 20th place in the FIFA ranking, hoping to dignify football in their country, distance it from political issues (in 2006 FIFA had suspended them for government interference in football matters) and bring it closer to the Iranians who enjoy this sport.
Iran, ancient Persia. The place where “Susa” is located, the city where the Biblical story of Esther takes place. The land that inspired “The Thousand and One Nights.” A place that transports the imagination to times of conquerors such as Cyrus the Great or Alexander the Great, who left architectural traces in their wake. It is the second-most populous country in the Middle East, and the only one, worldwide, that is organized as a theocratic republic, that is, one where power is in the hands of its religious leaders.
Iran is located on a large plateau and is known for the impressive Lut desert, incredible cities carved in adobe, ancient palaces, archaeological sites of great value for Eastern history, mosques, and plazas. It is a country with a deep Islamic culture, dating back many centuries, but also manifest in present-day reality: 96% of the population are Shiite Muslims. Above the president of the country, the Iranians appoint a supreme spiritual leader (Muslim), although in parliament the other religions (Christians, Jews, Sunni Muslims and Bahais) each have their representative.
The presence of the Christian church is increasing, despite the fact that it is considered a country of extreme persecution for evangelicals. The organization “Open Doors” places it among the ten most dangerous countries to be a Christian.
Oremos por mayor libertad religiosa en Irán, por el fortalecimiento de las iglesias domésticas, y por los hermanos que sufren condenas por expresar su fe. Oremos para que las mujeres tengan más derechos (en 2020 se permitió por primera vez que asistieran a un estadio de futbol) y para que el país tenga paz y mejores condiciones para todos y todas.
Let us pray for greater religious freedom in Iran, for the strengthening of house churches, and for our brothers and sisters who suffer persecution for expressing their faith. Let us pray for women to have more rights (in 2020 they were allowed to attend a football stadium for the first time) and for the country to have peace and better conditions for everyone.
Photo Football Player:
Richard I’Anson, Nation
This is interesting. I am enjoying these writings that inform about the cultures of other countries and how they’re impacted by football. Thank you, Carlos!