In support of the anti-government protesters at home, the Iranian team declines to sing the national anthem prior to their match against England in the FIFA World Cup.
Before their opening World Cup match against England on Monday, Iran’s athletes chose not to sing their country’s anthem, seemingly in support of anti-government demonstrators back home. The players would decide collectively whether or not to refuse to sing the national anthem in a show of support for protests that have shook the Iranian regime before to the game in Qatar, according to captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh. The Khalifa International Stadium in Doha was filled with the sound of the Iranian team’s anthem as the players stood motionless and grim-faced.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) November 21, 2022
Iran has been rocked by two months of widespread protests after Mahsa Amini, 22, died on September 16 while being held by the morality police. Three days after her detention in Tehran for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women, which includes wearing the hijab headscarf as a requirement, Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish descent, passed away.
In sympathy of the demonstrators, several Iranian athletes have opted not to perform the national anthem or revel in their triumphs. Jahanbakhsh, a former player for the English club Brighton, became incensed last week when a British journalist inquired about the anthem controversy. “Every single player has a different celebration and you ask about national anthem and that’s something that also has to be decided in the team, which we already talked about,” he said.
“But we never made a big deal out of it, to be honest, because everybody is only thinking about football.” According to the Oslo-based organisation Iran Human Rights, nearly 400 people have died as a result of the crackdown since Amini’s death. Questions have been raised regarding whether the team represents Iran or the government that has ruled with an iron fist since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in response to the state’s statement.