Producer and Director of FIFA TV Story: Incredible passion of Tehran derby

Since ‘Pitch International’ was totally satisfied with my previous story about Afghanistan football they asked me to produce a feature around Tehran derby.

Asia’s highest profile derby is between two of Tehran’s giants; Perspolis and Esteghlal. According to the World Soccer Magazine, it is the 22nd most important derby in the derby, a fact that fans of the red and blue halves of Iran vehemently dispute!

Fans, players and coaching staff of both sides get very emotional in the days leading up to the big match and by match day they go into a frenzy. There have been several instances of highly charged matches that fans and players get very physical and aggressive on and off the field. The two Tehran giants have following right across Iran. It is common for thousands of fans to travel to Tehran from far distances and spent the night outside the stadium to gain access to the game as soon as the gates open.

The 81st derby taken place on 30th October 2015 had taken a far more significant turn due to the sudden death of Perspolis’s 30-year-old captain; Hadi Norouzi, due to a heart failure during his sleep. It was widely believed the stress of early season’s poor results caused his heart attack. Persepolis team and their millions of fans across Iran mourned his passing for an entire week. They hoped they could post their third consecutive victory over Esteghlal in the last 14 months to dedicate it to the late Hadi Norouzi. I managed to shoot both team’s training sessions prior to the match as well as sit down interviews with Perspolis coach Branko Ivankovic.
I interviewed the 1970’s Perspolis legend Hossein Kalani (derby top goal scorer for Persepolis with 6 goals) and also Mehdi Hasheminasab, one of the few players who played for both sides and scored in derby. The match ended in a 1-1 draw as Perspolis Honduran striker Jerry Bengston scored in the 5th minute of the stoppage time to cancel out Jaber Ansari’s 49th minute goal.