A notion made by six Iran internationals has shown us that football can be a catalyst for political change...
An alleged attempt at political protest by six Iranian players saw them take to the pitch wearing green wristbands, green being the colour of the opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh. His 'Green movement' has been dominating the news with their daily demonstrations following Iran's presidential election.
Mehdi Mahdavi Kia, Ali Karimi, Mohamad Nosrati, Javad Nekounam, Masoud Shojaei, Hossein Kaebi were the protagonists in the incident.
Each player was asked to remove their wristbands at half-time, but three of those involved refused the request and opted only to cover their green wristband with white bandages.
Interestingly, Osasuna midfielder Shojaei also wore a green undershirt, and, as expected, was also asked to remove the garment in fear that the player might score and remove his shirt to celebrate. As fate would have it, Shojai was indeed responsible for the first goal.
Iran's team manager, Mansour Pourheidari, said to reporters: "This was not a political move, but rather players were using an Islamic symbol to defeat Korea. Because players felt the move maybe mistaken for a political act, we asked the players to take off the wristbands. "
The gaffer's statement was not bought many in the Iranian public, on whom the occurence had an emotional impact.
Kaveh Mahjoob, editor of Goal.com Iran, tells us that the players' actions have made waves at home already.
"Two hours after the game finished, the players' photos were already being held up by opposition demonstrators in Tehran," he told us.
"This shows the power of football as a force for political change."
Iran's playoff hopes hang in the balance: should the result between North Korea and Saudi Arabia be favourable, the fans will take to the streets to celebrate a possible qualification place. These celebrations could collide with - or mix with - opposition protests.
Ewan Macdonald & Stephen Crawford, Goal.com