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Iranian World Cup Squad Declines to Sing National Anthem, Backing Protests

Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar – November 21, 2022 Iran players line up during the national anthems before the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica
Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar – November 21, 2022 Iran players line up during the national anthems before the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Iran‘s World Cup soccer team declined to sing their national anthem before their opening match against England on Monday after many fans back home accused the squad of siding with a violent state crackdown on persistent popular unrest.

Protests demanding the fall of the ruling Shi’ite Muslim theocracy have gripped Iran since the death two months ago of young woman Mahsa Amini after her arrest for flouting the strict Islamic dress code.

Dozens of Iranian public figures, athletes and artists have displayed solidarity with the protesters – but not the national soccer team, until Monday’s match when all team members remained silent when the national anthem was played.

Iranian state television did not show the players lined up for the anthem before the match got under way in Qatar, just across the Gulf from their homeland.

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