To show their support for the Iranian national team in the 2018 World Cup, an Iranian firm put an enormous poster on the side of a building in the centre of the capital, Tehran. It reads: “Together, we are champions. One nation, one heartbeat.” However, the fact that there are no women on the poster sparked anger on social media and eventually resulted in the poster being taken down.

This poster was plastered on advertising space in Tehran in Valiasr Square, in the middle of the city.

This poster shows about 15 exuberant men holding up a golden trophy. The crowd includes footballers and civilians. Some are wearing suits, while others are wearing more traditional garb. The crowd includes people with different skin tones and different hair. But it doesn’t contain a single woman.

This fact didn’t escape the critics. Some Iranian women altered the image to include women’s faces and then posted it to social media.
 

"We saw that it was lacking women, so we decided to add some ourselves,” says this tweet.
 

The Qanun newspaper, which tends to lean centre-right, printed an illustration of the poster with the phrase, “Without women, we will lose.”


The company that designed these posters is called the “House of designers of the Islamic Republic”. They are known for making posters that oppose the politics of moderate President Hassan Rohani, the United States and Israel. This company is part of the larger group Owj, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards. This is not the first time that ad campaigns made by Owj have stirred up controversy.
 

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Faced with the uproar, the company replaced the original poster with another, more sober poster featuring women… though they are not at the forefront.

The poster shows people lined up with a hand over their hearts – just like a team during the national anthem. There are five footballers wearing the national jersey. After them, there are Iranians from civil society. The first woman is in ninth place.


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But this new poster has also been mocked. Someone replaced all of the people’s faces with that of Iranian player Masoud Shojaei, a player on the national team.