Chants of ‘Arabian Gulf’, ‘Death to Dictator’ ring out in Iran football stadia

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Social media portals in Iran were flooded with videos on Thursday and Friday carrying footage of football fans chanting political and national slogans in favor of Ahvazi Arabs, Turks and Azerbaijani, which led to police intervention leading to clashes with the football fans in both Ghadir Ahvaz and Azadi Tehran playgrounds.

Clashes at the Ghadir Ahvaz Stadium on Thursday and in Tehran on Friday, started actually since last Friday when Foolad Khuzestan Football team representing Ahvaz Arabs was a guest of Persepolis Football team in Tehran - where Persian fans shouted degrading slogans against Arabs and Ahvaz fans who were present in small numbers to support their team.

Following the posting of the footage of anti-Arab slogans on social media, fans and activists on social media called Ahvazi Arabs to come to the stadium on Thursday to respond to those slogans, especially as Persepolis were playing a game at Ghadir Ahvaz Stadium against the other Arab team, Esteghlal Khuzestan.

From the minute the game started, Arab fans chanted slogans of nationalism, including pride in Arabism and their Arab affiliation, and the most prominent among those slogans that upset the other side: “Gulf Arab.”

With tensions rising high with some fans trying to enter the stadium, the referee was forced to stop the game for several minutes, until security forces arrived and clashes broke out between security forces and Arab fans.

Some fans burned the Iranian flag after the match with national chants.

There were also clashes between fans of the Independence Club of Tehran and security forces on one hand and between supporters of Tractor Sazi Tabriz Footbal, which are from Turkish and Azerbijani ethnicity on the other hand in the Azadi Stadium on Friday, where the Iranian capital club fans arrayed against fans from the other two ethnicities.

The clashes led to injuries while security forces arrested hundreds of fans from the minority ethnic groups.

During the violence, fans also shouted slogans against the Iranian supreme leader saying: “Death to the dictator.”

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