In August 2018, Tractor Sazi, an Iranian club from the city of Tabriz, went to Tehran to play local giants Esteghal at the Azadi national stadium. In the stand behind the goal, a few thousand Tractor fans with red shirts sang: ‘Death to the dictator! Death to the dictator!’.
The chant echoes themes heard during the protests & demonstrations against the regime that took part in Iran in 2018, which were instructed by a worsening economic crisis in the country. The song is heard frequently during Tractor’s games with Esteghal in the Persian Gulf Pro League and is directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader & current ruler, since 1989.
During the game, the police responded with force, beating and arresting fans until the signing stopped. Tractor lost 3-0, but the chants continued regardless and the Iranian broadcaster televising the game felt compelled to lower the volume of their pitch-side microphones.
It’s part of turbulent atmosphere which surrounds Tractor Sazi, one of the most fascinating clubs in the Middle East, during their most hectic season ever.