Iran players stay silent for national anthem in apparent support of protests
- Country has been rocked by anti-regime protests
- Fans in stadium seemingly drown out playing of anthem
Iran chose not to sing their country’s anthem before their opening World Cup match against England on Monday, in an apparent show of support for protesters back home.
All of the starting 11 players were silent as the anthem was played at the Khalifa International Stadium. Iranian fans in the stadium did make noise though, possibly in an attempt to drown out the anthem. Before the tournament, Iran manager Carlos Queiroz said he would not discipline players who chose to protest in Qatar.
Sardar Azmoun, who came on as a substitute in the 77th minute, was given a rousing reception by Iran fans. The Bayer Leverkusen forward recently spoke up in support of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died in Iranian police custody after refusing to observe the country’s conservative dress code.
On Sunday Iran’s captain, Ehsan Hajsafi, said his team could be a force for change in the country.
“We have to accept the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” he said. “We are here but it does not mean we should not be their voice or we must not respect them.
“Whatever we have is from them. We have to fight. We have to perform and score some goals to present the brave people of Iran with a result. I hope conditions change as to the expectations of the people.”
More than two months of nationwide protests, sparked by the death of Amini, are among the boldest challenges posed to Iran’s clerical leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At least 380 people, including 58 children, have reportedly been killed since the anti-regime protests began.