Iran’s brave and powerful gesture is a small wonder from a World Cup of woe | Barney Ronay

An authentic football match appeared after the opening’s cold theatre but its most important moment was Iran’s defiant stand against singing the national anthem

Well, that was unexpected. After the cold, cold theatre of Qatar 2022’s opening game, elite sport reimagined as a despot’s light-show, something remarkable happened on Monday afternoon in Doha.

As night fell over the vast, swooping Khalifa International Stadium (all these World Cup structures are vast and swooping; unless specifically told otherwise, assume vast and swooping) England and Iran produced something that felt jarringly real, oddly warm, suspiciously authentic.

Continue reading…