(IranSportsPress.com | Donga)- Its location at the highlands of 2,000-meter altitude causes athletes to consume a lot of physical energy, while loud cheers coming from tens of thousands of Iranian fans make them feel threatened. In fact, the Korean team has never won the Iranian one in its visiting matches against Iranian team with the previous record of two ties and four losses. Since Korea made a big win against Iran six to two at the 1996 Asian Cup game held in United Arab Emirates, Iranian football fans jeer at Korean players with the number six and two on their face whenever the two have matches in Iran. “A number of Iranian spectators are psychological burden for me,” Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace) confessed.
It is expected, however, that Iranian spectators will become fairly calmer than before at the 2018 Russia World Cup Asia 4th final qualifier, which is scheduled to be held on Tuesday. The day overlaps with Tasua, a memorial day of Shia Muslims. On the day when they commemorate the death of Imam Hussain, it’s prohibited to attend festivals, dance or sing songs. The Iranian soccer association made a request to Asian Football Confederation that the date of the upcoming match be moved forward, which was turned down on the grounds that it would shorten the time for Korean team to recover their physical condition.
According to the British daily Independent, there is a growing criticism from Islamic clerics to have a football match on the day of Tasua. “Some may say that by not playing the game we will pay a price, but it is better to pay a price than have our sanctities harmed,” reported the newspaper. “If the Iranian national team scores a goal, who can guarantee that no one in Iran will jump up for joy?” Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi criticized.
“As the match will be held on Tasua and the number of Azadi Stadium seats has been reduced to 80,000 from 100,000 since last year’s seat construction, cheering of Iranian fans is expected to be less passionate,” sources from the Korea Football Association said. “Tasua is an immensely sad day for the Shia and the day on which their identity was established,” said In Nam-sik, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy. “It’s unlikely that the control for the cheering will be made at the government level but some type of guideline may come out.”
The controversy over this may affect Korean fans’ cheering as well. According to the Independent, the Iranian soccer association has requested to Korean embassy in Iran that Korean fans refrain from cheering and shouting during Tuesday’s game, and wear dark colours. “As the Shia wear black on Tasua, it could be problematic to wear the red, a symbolic color of Red Devil, for the planned match in the Stadium,” said Prof. In. “As far as we know, there hasn’t been any official request to refrain from cheering,” sources from Korean association. “But the Iranian soccer association requested to Korean embassy that Korean fans wear a black ribbon.”