Before their FIFA World Cup opener against England on Monday, Iranian players refused to sing the national anthem.
This cannot be unrelated to the nationwide protests that have been taking place since September 17.
The unrest in Iran began when Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died while in the custody of the morality police.
This has resulted in widespread protests in Iran, with citizens demanding the removal of President Ebrahim Raisi.
More than 200 civilians have been killed in the violence as security forces continue to clash with protesters.
The players in Qatar decided not to open their mouths to sing the national anthem as it was officially played in the stadium, seemingly out of solidarity for the people back home.
Meanwhile, this was not the first time the team had shown solidarity with the protesters on the field. In a friendly against Senegal in late September, they chose to wear black jackets to cover the country’s colors.
The team met with President Raisi before flying to Doha for the World Cup, but the meeting did not go well with protesters, and banners of the team were burned on the eve of the tournament.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Iran’s football captain, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, refused to confirm whether his team would sing the national anthem.
“That’s something that also has to be decided about in the team, which we already talked about and obviously everybody’s talking about,” Jahanbakhsh said.
Also on Sunday, defender Ehsan Hajsafi became the first Iranian World Cup player to publicly support the protests.
“They should know that we are with them and we support them and we sympathise with them regarding the conditions,” he said.
England defeated Iran 6-2 in their first match at Qatar’s Khalifa International Stadium.
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