Iran Team: In apparent support of anti-government protesters in their homeland, Iran’s players did not sing the national anthem ahead of their World Cup opener against England on Monday.
Before the game in Qatar, captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh said the team would decide together whether to refuse to sing the national anthem in solidarity with the demonstrations that have shaken the regime in Iran.
As his anthem played around Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium, Iranian players stood with emotion.
Iran has been rocked by two months of nationwide protests since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody on 16 September. Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died in Tehran three days after her arrest.
over alleged violations of the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women, which includes the mandatory hijab headscarf.
Some Iranian athletes have chosen not to sing the national anthem or celebrate their victories in support of the protesters. Jahanbakhsh, who plays for English club Brighton, was incensed last week by a British journalist over a question on the issue of the anthem.
He said, ‘Every player’s celebration is different and you ask about the national anthem and that too has to be decided in the team, which we have already talked about.
“But to be honest, we never made it big, because everyone is only thinking about football.”
According to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, some 400 people have been killed in the crackdown since Amini’s death. The state’s response has raised questions about whether the team represents Iran or a regime that has ruled with an iron fist since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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