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Iran fans celebrating on the streets of the capital Tehran after the match against Argentina (Photo Roohollah Vahdati ISNA)
Iran and the magic of football

24 Jun 2014
Tehran: It is not a game. It is not just a sport field. It is not only a a good way to spend a moment of entertainment or rest. It is not just a match. It is a world that can change everything, and effect everything in people’s lives. It is a magical phenomenon... It is called football. World Cup time is the best period to understand football’s effect on humans and society in countries throughout the world. And to believe that indeed - football is more than just a sport.

About six months ago, the World Cup draw placed Iran in group F with Nigeria, Bosnia and Argentina, and all of Iran could hardly wait for the game with Argentina. Because Argentina has many fans in Iran and this would only be the second time that the South Americans would play in a football match against Iran. Iranian football fans were waiting for June 21th and this fantastic match with football giants Argentina and especially with Lionel Messi.

After about six months of expectation, Saturday night arrived and Iran came face to face with Argentina. And resisted Argentina’s pressure for 90 minutes and seemed destined for yet another draw in the tournament, that is until Barcelona star Lionel Messi scored Argentina’s winner in the 91st minute of the match.

The match ended 1-0, but remember, football is not only a game. After this fantastic match, Iranian fans rejoiced in the players’ effort and determination by gathering in the streets in celebration. Iran’s players had given the nation, and the world, a very nice match. It was beyond what anybody could have imagined, including the majority of football experts who, before the World Cup, were sure that Iran would be an absolute loser in this match. That did not happen. The Iranian squad caught Argentina in their defensive trap and were inspired by a number of fantastic reactions by goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi.

In the second half of the match, Ashkan Dejagah was tackled by Pablo Zabaleta, and  Iran should have been awarded a penalty.

However, this is football. One side is happy and other is sad. But in this match not everything was as expected, both teams were happy, both celebrated. On Sunday morning, every Iranian was happy, smiling and proud, all because of football.

Saturday night was an unforgettable and immanent moment in the sporting history of Iran and now, after few days have passed, Iranians are still happy and hopeful. They are waiting for the match with Bosnia. Hope and triumph have crept into society and it is all due to football. So no, it is not just a game or a sport. It is the magic of football.

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