Every nation at next month’s World Cup will be represented on Twitter after three Iranian footballers joined the platform even though it’s banned in the Islamic Republic.
Hossein Mahini, Sardar Azmou and Mohammed Reza have now had their accounts verified by Twitter and it seems they have the blessing of the government too, after Mahini posted a photo of himself, his team mates and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to the microblogging site.
The push to get some stars of the Iranian national team was the result of a conversation between an Iranian freelance journalist and members of the Twitter team.
After some investigative work it was discovered that Persepolis defender Mahini already had an account on the site, however it was infrequently used. Contact was made and he was asked to encourage some other members of the national team to sign up. A short time later all three players had their accounts verified by Twitter.
Speaking to Mashable.com, Mahini said he joined the platform to let Iranian football fans know what the team was up to in Brazil: “It will help me get closer to my fans. People who like to know about our work can do it easier through Twitter. And I will be able to find good friends across the world.”
Twitter was blocked in Iran after it was used to organise rallies by anti-government protesters in the summer of 2009, however millions of people still access the site via proxy servers. There’ll be no shortage of Iranian interest once the tournament kicks off on Thursday 12 June.