Meir Javedanfar
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The Iranians who want to lose the Cup

As their team vies to reach the World Cup's knockout stages, an elite few forsee a big downside to a victory

Tonight overwhelming majority of Iranians in Iran and outside will be hoping and praying for Iran to win against Bosnia.

There will also be a tiny minority of Iranians who will hope that Iran loses.

This tiny yet powerful minority will most probably belong to senior members of Iran’s intelligence apparatus.

The reason?

Because if Iran wins tonight, there will be an explosion of joy among ALL Iranians, no matter what religion, ethnicity or gender they belong to. And this could mean millions of people pouring onto the streets of major cities and towns in Iran to celebrate Iran’s victory.

The last time a similar event took place was during the 1998 world cup when Iran beat the United States team 2-1. There were so many people on the streets that they could not be controlled. Boys and girls danced together. There are even reports that some girls removed their hijab.

Such behavior by the Iranian public may sound innocent to you, but to Iran’s domestic security apparatus they sound like something else: a challenge.

The reason being that to Iran’s intelligence chiefs, if tonight people pour on to the streets in millions without permission to celebrate football, this may embolden them to do the same tomorrow for politics.

If young women take their hijab off to celebrate a football victory and they are not stopped today, tomorrow they may want more, such as being allowed into football stadiums to watch their national team. This is something which they are not currently allowed to do so.

And its these small things which concern Iran’s intelligence chiefs greatly, because there is so much potential for them to grow. The way they see it, if they are not stopped while they are small, they could turn into giants tomorrow.

Why else would young Iranians be temporarily arrested and humiliated for making a video where they danced to Will Pharrel’s “Happy” song?

Why else would they arrest two people who according to AP “appeared in an on line video of young people singing and dancing in support of the country’s World Cup football team”?

About the Author
Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli lecturer, author, and commentator. He has been teaching Iranian politics at Reichman University in Israel since 2012 and is Anti-Defamation League’s Iran consultant.