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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 02:21 GMT 03:21 UK
Iran football clashes continue
Iran lost 3-1 to Bahrain
Iran's loss to Bahrain may have sparked the protests
There have been serious disturbances in the Iranian capital, Tehran, for the second night running.

Thousands of young people, apparently angered by Iran's 3-1 defeat by Bahrain in a World Cup football qualifying match on Sunday night, took to the streets and clashed with riot police and security forces on Monday evening.

All Bahrain players engaged in these matches were eligible to compete

Fifa statement
Their anger may have been compounded by reports that the International Football Federation (Fifa) had rejected an Iranian complaint about Bahrain fielding ineligible players.

The loss robbed Iran of its expected qualification for the World Cup and forced it into playoffs in a final effort to win a place in the 2002 finals, to be held in Japan and South Korea.

Roads blocked

In many parts of the city, major roads were blocked off by police as security forces chased gangs of youths through the streets.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has postponed a visit to Esfahan

They beat many of them with truncheons and arrested them.

Thousands of young people had converged on various squares and parks.

In some areas, shots were heard as security forces, riot police and right-wing vigilantes tried to disperse the crowds.

Hundreds arrested

In similar scenes on Sunday night, after the match, at least 800 people were reported to have been arrested.

About 600 were still in detention on Monday evening.

The BBC correspondent in Tehran says that although football provided the trigger for the disturbances, there was a strong element of social and even political protest involved.

The country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has postponed a long-scheduled visit to the country's second city, Esfahan, amidst reports of disturbances there too.

His office said he was suffering from a cold and that the visit would go ahead in a week's time.

See also:

22 Oct 01 | Middle East
Iran football fans clash with police
31 Aug 01 | Middle East
Iran riot prompts 150 arrests
22 Apr 01 | Middle East
Iran court sentences 100 rioters
13 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iran riots blamed on hardliners
28 Aug 00 | Middle East
Policeman dead in Iran unrest
11 Jul 00 | Middle East
Six days that shook Iran
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