Welsh fans were in fine voice today singing their national anthem, as crowds gathered in Qatar ahead of their team’s key World Cup clash with Iran this morning.
Anticipation was building outside Doha’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium and at the Corniche Walk Park, with pictures showing hundreds of fans in football kits, proudly waving flags emblazoned with the red Welsh dragon.
A sea of red shirts and bucket hats could be seen on the city’s waterfront on Friday, along with the Urdd Youth Choir and Yma o Hyd singer Dafydd Iwan, with the crowd belting out fan favourites including I Love You Baby, and the Welsh national anthem.
Welsh fans were in fine voice today as they sang their national anthem, as crowds gathered in Qatar ahead of their team’s key World Cup clash with Iran this morning. Pictured: Wales supporters gather at the Corniche Walk Park, Qatar, ahead of Wales’ second Group B games at the FIFA World Cup 2022. Picture date: Friday November 25, 2022
Wales fans gather next to an oversized version of a bucket hat decorated in Welsh colours
Welsh singer Dafydd Iwan performs with a choir at the Corniche Walk Park, Qatar, ahead of Wales’ second Group B game at the FIFA World Cup 2022
Left: A Welsh fan shows of his commitment to his team by wearing a Welsh football shirt-tie combo to a work meeting. Right: Two Welsh fans enjoy a drink after ‘two hours sleep’ and a ‘heavy night binging’ ahead of Wales’ clash with Iran on Friday
Pictured: A Welsh fan wears a thobe, decorated with the a Welsh flag, the red dragon, and the country’s red and green
After their 1-1 draw with the USA on Monday, Wales are chasing a historic first World Cup victory in 64 years that would take them a significant step closer to progressing from the group stage. Their final match comes against England on Tuesday.
Temperatures could reach up to 29C when today’s match kicks off at 10am GMT (1pm local time) at the 40,000-capacity stadium.
Several Welsh fans travelling from Dubai faced disappointment, however, amid reports that they faced visa problems at the airport and risk missing the game.
The Wales Football Supporters’ Association said on Twitter: ‘Loads (of visas) finally got approved late but this whole process with day permit for Iran game has been difficult for our fans. ‘We have informed Fifa and FAW.’
Dozens of fans replied to the post saying they or other supporters had been affected. Fans with a valid match ticket are able to apply for a Matchday Visit Hayya Card, which is a visa permit that allows entry into Qatar for up to 24 hours.
However, many have reported that they are not being issued in time to board the shuttle flights into Doha.
There are hopes that ticketing issues which flared during England’s first game against Iran will have been resolved
Back at home, the eyes of the whole country will be fixed on the game.
Many Welsh schools cancelled classes to allow pupils to watch captain Gareth Bale and his teammates in action. More than 1,000 schools are expected to take part in ‘Cymru Football Friday’, the BBC reported.
Fans at home took to social media to show their commitment to their team. One man posted a photo of himself on Twitter wearing a tie over a Welsh football shirt. ‘Important work meeting at 10,’ he wrote.
Pictured: Two Iranian fans wear t-shirts that read: ‘Woman. Life. Freedom.’ ahead of today’s clash with Wales. Iranian fans have used the world cup to show their solidarity with anti-government protesters at home
Wales fans arrive at the stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al-Rayyan. Picture date: Friday November 25
Pictured: Welsh and Iran supporters pose for a photo together today ahead of the match
A Welsh fan is interviewed ahead of today’s Group B clash that will see Wales take on Iran
Pictured: An Iranian fan waves at the camera head of his team’s clash with Wales today
Ahead of the game, FIFA gave the go-ahead for rainbow-coloured bucket hats and flags to be allowed inside the stadium.
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said the governing body has confirmed fans will be allowed to enter with the items for the clash with Iran after they confiscated them ahead of Wales’ draw with the USA.
The FAW urged FIFA to stick to their message that ‘everybody will be welcome’ in Qatar during the tournament after the first week was marred by its handling of LGBTQ+ symbols.
Former Wales captain Laura McAllister told the PA news agency: ‘I was always going to wear my rainbow bucket hat to today’s game, regardless of what we heard back from Fifa, but I’m really pleased we’ve been able to force Fifa’s hand on this.
‘They have heard now that rainbow emblems, whether it’s bucket hats, or laces, or wristbands, will be permitted in the stadium, but of course we were told that before the USA game.
‘I just hope they stick to what has been said, and I can’t see there being any issues unless the Qatari authorities completely ignore Fifa’s directive again.’
Wales fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between Wales and IR Iran at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 25, in Doha
Pictured: Welsh fans soak up the sun in the stadium ahead of their team’s match with Iran
Supporters wave Iranian flags and hold up a sign reading “Freedom for Iran, No to Islamic Republic”, ahead of the World Cup group B soccer match between Wales and Iran, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, November 25
Pictured: The Wales team bus arrives at the stadium on Friday morning
Pictured: Gareth Bale of Wales arrives at the stadium prior to his team’s match against Iran
Ms McAllister said she has not received an apology over the incident but it has not soured the tournament for her.
She added: ‘This backfired so horribly for Fifa and the Qataris because, at the end of the day, it gave us a platform to talk about LGBT rights.’
This comes after FIFA’s controversial decision to ban team captains from wearing the LGBTQ ‘OneLove’ armband during their World Cup matches.
England, Wales and five other European teams abandoned plans to wear rainbow-themed ‘Onelove’ armbands at the World Cup because of the threat of FIFA disciplinary action, that would see players and teams face sanctions.
The armbands had been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Wales’ Gareth Bale was one of the captains expected to wear the armband. When he took to the field against the USA, he was instead wearing a FIFA-approved ‘No Discrimination’ armband instead. England’s Harry Kane did the same.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the Iran players and fans to see if they repeat the protests they carried out during their last match against England, which included not singing their national anthem.
Prior to their kick off against England on Monday, Iranian players refused to sing in a show of solidarity with protesters back home, hundreds of whom have been killed in clashes with government security services over the death of Mahsa Amini – who died in custody after being arrested by the Tehran’s morality police.
Many Iranian fans in the stands displayed slogans supporting protests, drawing particular attention to human rights issues and the plight of women in Iran.
Ahead of their clash with Wales, some Iranian fans looked set to continue their demonstrations today. Two Iran fans were pictured wearing t-shirts that read: ‘Woman. Life. Freedom.’
Others chanted outside the stadium: ‘Freedom for Iran, No to Islamic Republic’,
Wales’ Gareth Bale was one of the captains expected to wear the armband. When he took to the field against the USA, he was instead wearing a FIFA-approved ‘No Discrimination’ armband instead (pictured). England’s Harry Kane did the same
Wales fans celebrate as Gareth Bale scores the equaliser during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21
The world will also be watching to see if Wales or England players decide to protest over Fifa’s decision to place sporting sanctions on captains who wear the One Love armbands.
The German team made a stand at the start of their head to head with Japan by posing for a picture covering their mouths.
Mr Iwan, who has been vocal in his criticism of the Iranian regime, said: ‘I think it’s great that the Iran football team has expressed a disenchantment with their own government. We must also oppose the Iran government.
‘But, as far as football is concerned, this is a game we’ve got to win.
‘I saw a glimpse of the team playing yesterday. They look in fine form – Joe Allen is very sprightly – so I’m full of confidence.’
Sara Penant, 28, from Caernarfon in North Wales, and one of the horde of Wales fans crowded around the giant bucket hat installation on Friday morning, said: ‘I’m excited. There’s such a buzz building around here, but slightly apprehensive about the game as well because obviously it’s a crucial one.
‘If Wales win, it will be chaos tonight, but if we lose it’ll change the whole dynamic of the next couple of days.
‘I hope we get to see it. We’re quite greedy now after the Euros last year and 2016.
‘If you’d talked to us years ago, probably seeing Wales score in a World Cup would have been enough, but expectations are higher now and we want to see that win.’
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