Iranian football fans were banned from celebrating goals in Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier match against South Korea.
The match was played on the same day with a Muslim holiday of mourning.
Many took part in mourning processions as they gathered at the 75,000-capacity Azadi stadium in Tehran to mark the eve of Ashura, one of the holiest days in the Iranian calendar.
For Shiite Muslims, Ashura marks the death of Imam Hussein in the seventh century, and is traditionally a day of solemn processions through the streets, in which black-clad men beat their chests and heads in anger and despair.
According to the ISNA news agency, Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani said to Iranians last week: “Bear in mind that if football is going to be played on the eve of the Ashura, the atmosphere of this match must be 100 percent in line with Ashura“.
“The entire stadium must be covered in black and shouts of Hussein must be heard constantly from the crowd. Instead of the clapping in these games, all should shout ‘Ya Hussein’.”
Two enormous black flags with Hussein’s name, measuring an estimated 600 metres squared, were unfurled inside the stadium.
South Korean players and journalists wore black arm bands to show respect for the holy day.
Iran eventually won the match 1-0.