Watching football in Tehran

The wonderful Tehran-based blogger ET recounts a conversation with a taxi driver after the Iran-Mexico World Cup match:

“The mullahs did not want us to win. They told the players: ‘make sure you lose.’”

“No way.”

“You didn’t grow up here. You don’t know the lengths they would go to to keep us off the streets and to keep us from celebrating. We are a rich country with a great culture, but they have ruined us.”

She also has an account of watching the match with a group of Iranian friends:

The apartment was draped with flags. Faces were painted green and white; young women wore team t-shirts; horns were blaring; the music was loud. Within minutes a tray filled with vodka was passed around the room. The stereo was blaring Arash’s “Iran… Iran…” It was repeated so often that night, that I learned the words. It goes something like We are Iranian until we die; we speak in one voice: Iran, Iran…

It rhymes in Persian.
Halftime arrived. I went outside for a bit of fresh air. “I was just in Europe,” a young man told me. “Every time I said I was Iranian, they said Ahmadinejad. I said we did not elect him. They don’t understand how we Iranians can love our country and hate our government.”

“My Iran is here,” the face-painted man said to me as he pointed to the apartment. “It is not there.” He pointed outside. “I love my Iran. My people are happy inside and sad outside.”