World Cup 2022: Iran’s internationals will not perform the national anthem at the World Cup in Qatar
The Iran national soccer team refrained from singing the national anthem ahead of their World Cup match against England on Monday to show their solidarity with anti-government protesters.
The players were silent and appeared serious as the anthem was played before the game, which was played at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Thousands of Iranian fans cheered in the stands as the music blared. Some held banners that read, “Woman…Life…Liberty.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said his players are free to protest.
The demonstrations, which have been going on for more than two months and were triggered by the death of the young woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the vice squad, have been considered one of the greatest challenges for the Iranian regime since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
And Iran’s official television interrupted its live broadcast of the game as the players lined up ahead of the game in conjunction with the playing of the national anthem.
However, some believe the Iran national team has lost public support in Iran, and many accuse them of siding with the state’s violent crackdown on protesters, including women and children, who seek the Islamic Republic’s downfall.
The team were, as usual, a great source of national pride, but in the build-up to the World Cup, they slipped into politics, waiting to see if their players would use the tournament as a platform to support protests.
On the eve of the game, captain Ehsan Haj-Safi, who plays for Greece, became the first Iran international to publicly speak out from the World Cup, cautiously saying: “We are with them. We support them. We sympathize with them.”
Iran were defeated 6-2 by England in the opening Group B game on Monday. But the defeat wasn’t enough to silence the Iranian fans, who banged drums and cheered in ecstasy throughout the match as star forward Mehdi Taremi scored twice.
Voices were also raised when Sardar Azmoun, who plays for German club Bayer Leverkusen, came up as an alternative, condemning the repression of protests in his country.
At half-time, Iranian fans could be heard chanting “Ali Karimi,” a reference to the former soccer player who is one of the Islamic Republic’s harshest critics and one of the protest movement’s most popular faces.
Iranian Dilara Jahani, 37, who lives in Iran, said players escalated because they didn’t sing the national anthem, according to Reuters.
“Their behavior was good for all Iranians who are against this regime,” she added at half-time as Iran was 3-0 down. “What they did was very important because of their great status. They had to show it.” You are with the people. They have shown us that they support them. “People. Now people will think differently about them.”
Commenting on the incident at half-time, BBC Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker said: “It was a very strong and important gesture. Football is trying to use its strength for good.”
More than 400 protesters were killed and 16,800 arrested in a crackdown by Iranian security forces, according to human rights activists.
Iran’s leaders say the protests are “riots” orchestrated by the country’s enemies abroad.
#World #Cup #Irans #internationals #perform #national #anthem #World #Cup #Qatar