Plying their trade in the Persian Gulf Pro League are Tractor Sazi F.C., one of the most popular teams in Iranian Azerbaijan. The club is owned by the Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company, after whom they take their name and have used for the colour scheme of their badge (they are often known simply as ‘Tractor’, or ‘Tiraxtur’, for short).
Tractor’s biggest rivals are Machine Sazi F.C., whom they play in the much anticipated Tabriz derby. After a few years in the lower reaches of Persian domestic football, the Red Wolves (as they are fondly known), climbed back up the league ladder and have qualified for the AFC Champions League group stages for the last four seasons.
Whilst on the pitch the team are performing well, off the pitch is not so easy for them. As the side are based in Tabriz (the capital of the East Azerbaijan district in Iran), there is a considerable Iranian Azerbaijani population in the city, speaking a common language of Azeri Turkish. The Azeri fans are often subject to insulting and racist chants from opposing Persian fans, and this has been the case since the club’s formation. As a result, wherever and whenever Tractor play, the venues are used by their fans as a platform for protesting for greater rights for Iran’s Azeri contigent, as supporters believe there is a pro-Persian stance upheld in major cities like Tehran.