Iran players sing national anthem ahead of FIFA World Cup match against Wales as rival Iranian fans clash outside

Iran players have sung the national anthem ahead of their crucial FIFA World Cup clash against Wales, as some fans were pictured in tears and others jeered and whistled in the stands.

The emotional scenes inside the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium came after some ugly scenes outside, as pro- and anti-government fans clashed.

Some Iran fans confiscated Persian pre-revolutionary Iranian flags from others and shouted insults at those wearing shirts with the slogan of the country’s protest movement, “Woman, Life, Freedom”.

Small mobs of men angrily chanted “The Islamic Republic of Iran” at women giving interviews about the protests to foreign media outside the stadium.

Shouting matches broke out outside the security checkpoint with some fans screaming, “Women, Life, Freedom” and others shouting, “The Islamic Republic”.

Many female fans were visibly shaken as Iranian government supporters surrounded them with national flags and filmed them on their phones.

Iran supporters hold up placards and flags
Supporters clashed outside the stadium.(AP: Jin-Man Lee)

One 35-year-old woman named Maryam, who like other Iran fans declined to give her last name for fear of government reprisals, started to cry as shouting men blowing horns surrounded her and filmed her face up close. She had the words “Woman Life Freedom” painted on her face.

Another woman named Vanya, 21, who lives in Qatar, said she was terrified to ever go back to Iran after what she experienced outside the stadium on Friday. “I’m genuinely afraid for my safety here,” she said.

Fans hold an Iran flag with the center symbol cut out of it
Some fans held flags without the national symbol on them.(Getty Images: Juan Luis Diaz/Quality Sport Images)

A group of fans wearing hats emblazoned with the name of the former Iran player Voria Ghafori, who was arrested in Iran on Thursday, said they had their hats stolen by government supporters.

“It’s obvious that the match had become very politicized this week. You can see people from the same country who hate each other,” said Mustafa, a 40-year-old Iran fan.

“I think the arrest of Voria has also affected society in Iran a lot.”

Some fans said stadium security removed items with messages in support of the protest movement.

Two Iranian fans speak to a security guard
Fans said security staff confiscated materials related to the protests in Iran.(Getty Images: Matthias Hangst)

Ayeh Shams from the United States, who was at the game with her brother, said security guards confiscated her flag because it had the word “women” on it.

“We’re first generation American. Our parents were born in Iran. We’re just here to enjoy the games and give a platform for the Iranian people who are fighting against the Islamic regime,” Shams said.

A bald man closes his eyes and cries
An Iran fan was captured on the TV broadcast in tears during the national anthem.(Supplied: SBS Sport)

Some anti-government fans waved signs in support of the protest movement at Iran’s first match against England earlier this week.

Before that match, Iran’s players remained silent as their national anthem was played. On Friday, they sang along.

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Two late goals give Iran hope

On the pitch, Iran scored twice after the eighth minute of stoppage time to snatch a stunning 2-0 win over Wales that breathed new life into their World Cup campaign.

After Wales keeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off in the 87th minute, Iran produced a remarkable finale, with Roozbeh Cheshmi driving home to give them the lead before Ramin Rezaeian added another in the 11th minute of stoppage time.

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