World Cup 2022: Iran Players Decline to Sing National Anthem

World Cup 2022: Iran Players Decline to Sing National Anthem

In the recent world cup match with England, Iran declined to sing their national anthem in an apparent expression of support towards the anti-government protest in their home country. 

During the anthem, some fans shouted and jeered while others were holding up signs which said, “Women, Life, Freedom”.

The coverage of the anthem was cut by the Iran state team and it switched to a previously shown white shot of the stadium. 

In recent months, mass protests have been met with a fierce crackdown. 

Such protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in custody in September. Amini was a 22 year old woman, detained by morality police for not wearing head coverings and allegedly breaking the strict rules.

According to human right activists, the number of protestors killed is more than 400 while those arrested in a crackdown by the security forces of Iran is 16,800.

The leaders of Iran say that these protests are riots which are orchestrated by the foreign enemies of the country. 

We can also hear the chants of “Ali Karimi ” by Iranian fans in the first half. These chants refer to the former footballer who is one of the most popular faces of the protest movement and one of the most outspoken critics of the Islami Republic. 

Also, we could hear the chants of “Be-Sharaf” by fans which meant dishonourable in Persian. This adjective is being used by the protestors against the security forces in Iran.

The football team was criticised by many opponents of the Islamic Republic for not openly supporting the protests as well as for meeting with President Ebrahim Raisi last week.

Ehsan Hajsafi, the Iran captain said that those who have died are supported by the players when he spoke before the game.

Manager Carlos Queiroz has said that his players are “free to protest ” over the rights of women in their home country as long as it “confirms with the world cup regulations and is in the spirit of the game”.

While playing two warmup internationals, the national team badge was also covered by Iran’s players.

LET THE KIDS PLAY FOOTBALL – QUEIROZ

Queiroz said that the political unrest in their home country had taken a tol on his squad after the 6-2 defeat in group B on Monday.

The Portuguese said, “To those who come to disturb the team with the issues that are not only about the football opinions, they’re not welcome because they are 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.” 

Further, it was added by the former Manchester United Assistant, “It is not right to come to this world cup and ask them to do things that are not their responsibility. They want to bring pride and joy for the people.”

“You don’t even imagine behind the scenes what these kids have been living in the last few days, just because they want to express themselves as footballers.”

Gary Lineker, BVC Match of the Day spoke about the incident at half time and said : “Or was a powerful and very very significant gesture. Football is trying to use its power for good.”

‘IT WAS A LIVELY FOOTBALL GAME, BUT IT WAS MUCH MORE THAN THAT’ – ANALYSIS

Escaping the symbolic gestures in the game was impossible, none of the players of Iran agreed upon singing the National Anthem as it sounded across the Khalifa International Stadium.

I spoke to a fan and he was in tears while hearing it in the stands. His voice was breakfast and he told me, “For my people…they are killing my people”.

There were loud and relentless cheers for the Iranian side adorned with the name, the colours and map of the country painted on it, “Iran. Iran.” Sounded with a beat of a drum. 

Women had kept their hair fully on display and were wrapped with the Iranian flag. Everytime their team got close to the net, they screamed. It was a lively football game, but it was much more than that.

In the sea of English and Iranian fans, there was a woman holding a small poster that said, “Women, Life, Freedom” in solidarity along with the protestors back in her home country. Though she didn’t want to share her name or show her face, she did want her message to get across. 

Walking through the stands, another Iranian fan whispered to me : “Please tell our story. No pictures please. I want to go back to the country one day and I don’t want problems.”

Bullet points:

  • In an apparent show of support for the anti-government rally in their own country, Iran chose not to sing their national anthem.
  • While the national anthem was playing, some spectators yelled and jeered while others held signs that read, “Women, Life, Freedom.”
  • Massive protests in recent months have been suppressed violently.
  • These protests started after Mahsa Amini passed away while being held in detention in September.
  • The Iranian government claims that these demonstrations are riots organised by Iran’s adversaries abroad.
  • After his team suffered a 6-2 loss in group B on Monday, Queiroz claimed that the political instability in their home nation had taken a toll on them.
  • Women had left all of their hair out in the open and were wearing the Iranian flag.

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