Thursday, September 09, 2004

My favorite moments--in no particular order--from last night's game between Iran and Jordan, when R. and i stood as the only fans of the iranian team (and i as the only woman) in a section with thousands of hardcore Jordanian soccer fans:

**After the stadium recovered from the silence that hit it when Iran scored its first goal, people in our section (the first class section, mind you) started to taunt the Iranian team with chants of "USA! USA! USA! USA!".

**When Khodadad Azizi was taking his 2 corner kicks in a row, he was right by our section, so people started saying in English "F**K you! f**K you". (Azizi was the one player that the fans seemed truly to hate, by the way. While insults were hurled at other Iranian players, they usually had a playful ring about them. A guy next to me occassionally would yell out Mirzapour's name, almost in appreciation. But Azizi with Azizi it was different, like they really hated him or something).

**Soon after Iran scored, the mood in the stadium changed drastically, as was to be expected. But more than being furious at the Iranians, the fans turned their anger against their home team. The few fans still yelling "yalla yalla" whenever Jordan had the ball were drowned out by the people cursing the players and ridiculing their lack of skills. The teenager turned analyst next to us started to lament at length that what the iranians were doing was playing soccer, and the jordanian team was just screwing around.

**With Iran's second goal and the end of the game shortly thereafter, the stadium burst into loud chants insulting the head coach of the jordanian team, Al-Gohary. What they were saying is too vulgar to repeat verbatim, but here is a literal translation of the insult that was chanted over and over again: "your sister's private parts, Al-gohary! your sister's private parts, Al-gohary". (Among the other sisters whose private parts were mentioned throughout the game were Karimi, Azizi, and Ali Dai, along with just about every Jordanian player during the end of the game, when their fans were completely furious with them).

**Despite booing the Iranian players and yelling during the Iranian national anthem, the Jordanian fans clapped and cheered for the Iranian team when they left the stadium and yelled out with extra enthusiasm for the team captain, Ali Dai. They even started chanting, "Iran, Iran", "Iran, Iran"; R. tells me this last gesture of saying "Iran, Iran" was as much about teasing the Jordanian team as it was about lauding Iran. Regardless, it was nice to see that the Iranians left the field with the smiling cheers of the jordanian fans.

**It was exhausting to spend the whole game containing our emotions from fear that the thousands of over-testosteroned Jordanian fans might crack our heads if we cheered for Iran, but towards the end of the game, R. was starting to lose his composure. When Mirzapour made one of his many saves during the last minutes of the game, R. began to whistle extremely loudly. A guy behind asked him, "You are with the Iranians?". R. didn't answer the man directly, just gave a big smile and asked him "Why?" and that is where the converstation ended. But then R. started speaking Arabic loudly with a Jordanian accent, asking random questions from people around us, in case some particularly angry fans decided they might like to anonymously push us or throw something at us when our backs were turned.

And that sums up my memorable moments from last night, but i may add more later, since I am still remembering scenes from the night as if it were a dream that i am recalling bit by bit as the day wears on.