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Iran protests ’mistreatment’ of footballers in Bahrain match

Iran on Saturday summoned Bahrain’s envoy to Tehran to protest what it called mistreatment of Iranian football players and supporters following a 2014 World Cup qualifier in Manama.

13 November 2011

The unnamed Bahraini diplomat was summoned to the foreign ministry, where an official expressed "discontent and regret" about reports of mistreatment and "the inaction of Bahraini security forces present at the match," the official IRNA news agency reported.

IRNA said some Bahraini supporters "threw water bottles and other objects at Iranian players and supporters in an insulting manner," and committed "immoral acts... as security forces failed to confront them."

Iran scored an injury time equaliser to claim a share of the spoils in a thrilling 1-1 draw with Bahrain in Asian zone qualifers for the 2014 World Cup on Friday.

The result left Iran, who had won the first-leg 6-0 in Tehran exactly a month ago, leading Group E with eight points from four matches while Bahrain remained third on five points.

The match started on a tense note and under tight security due to recent unrest in the region and a growing rift between Tehran and Manama — a situation aggravated by a masked man waving a Bahraini flag who invaded the pitch late in the first half.

Ties between Iran and Bahrain have become strained this year as the Gulf Arab country’s Sunni minority regime has, with Saudi Arabia’s help, clamped down hard on pro-democracy protests led by the majority Shiite population.

Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, has repeatedly condemned the brutal crackdown and has criticised heavy sentences meted out to arrested protesters.

The Arab monarchies of the Gulf have in return accused the Islamic republic of interference in their internal affairs and of encouraging the protests.

AFP | Nov 12, 2011