Iran’s football team declines to sing its own anthem at World Cup

Iran football team during national anthem.

Iran’s football team declined to sing its national anthem at the FIFA World Cup in a move that appears to be a display of solidarity with their fellow countrymen, who are protesting against Iran’s theocratic dictatorship.

Before yesterday’s match against England, the Iranian players stood silent as their national anthem was played before the game kicked off.

This bold gesture comes as Iranian authorities continue to kill and imprison protesters, minorities, and women dressed “immodestly.” News has circulated on social media that the Iranian regime plans to execute 15,000 protesters. Some journalists said that this is a false claim and Iranians have berated the journalists over this accusation, insisting that the claim is true.

Before the match, there was a bit of controversy behind FIFA allowing the Iranian team to compete. Many prominent Iranians took to social media to say that the team should have been boycotted since they had expressed loyalty to the Iranian government.

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Iranian-British comedian Omid Djalili posted a video on his social media platforms about the issue. Djalili noted that the players had “bowed to the terrorists” when they met with Iranian President Raisi.

The silence during the anthem wasn’t enough for some Iranians protesting the regime. During the match, Iranians at the cup shouted BESHARAF,” meaning dishonourable, at the Iranian team. Other Iranians on social media have claimed that the gesture was “too little too late.”

Even though the Iranian team had met with President Raisi earlier, the team’s captain made another statement of solidarity with protesters at the cup, saying “I want to say condolences to all the grieving families in Iran… we want them to know we are with them and by their side and share their pain.”

Iran eventually lost their opening World Cup Group B game to England 6-2. After the game, Iran’s Portugese-born manager Carlos Queiroz said the political unrest at home had taken a toll on his squad.

“To those who come to disturb the team with the issues that are not only about the football opinions, they’re not welcome because our boys, they’re just simple football boys.

“Let the kids play the game. Because this is what they’re looking for. They wanted to represent the country, to represent the people, as any other national team that is here. And all the national teams, there are issues at home.”


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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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