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Even as everyone from children to high-profile celebrities risk detainment or death for speaking out against the Iranian regime, members of the Iran national team refused to sing the national anthem during their match at the World Cup.
Iran ultimately lost to England in a final score of 6-2 during the opening game, but they clearly won over the hearts of millions watching. Their display of resistance comes as Iran continues to engage in a bloody crackdown against protestors back home who want to see equal rights for women and an end to the brutal Islamist regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Footage posted on Twitter showed members of the Iran national team standing together silently as the Iranian national anthem played. It represented perhaps the most visible show of support for Iranian women by Iranian men to date.
#BREAKING: Iran national team players choose not to sing national anthem at World Cup match; some of the Iranian crowed booing their own national anthem pic.twitter.com/RYPvgHMNUi
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) November 21, 2022
“Before anything else, I would like to express my condolences to all of the bereaved families in Iran,” defender Hajsafi said at the start of the news conference, according to the BBC.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and our people are not happy,” he said. “They should know that we are with them, we support them and we sympathize with them.”
Iran national team risks everything to support women
The dangerously brave show of solidarity comes months after the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody after refusing to wear her hijab. Her death has sparked the largest sustained level of protests in years inside Iran, as authorities attempt to cut off internet access.
Hundreds have died, including dozens of women and children, as protesters continue to defy some of the harshest crackdowns against their freedoms in a generation, according to human rights groups.
Meanwhile, Twitter users pointed out the bravery of players from the Iran national team compared to the actions of their European counterparts.
As host of the World Cup, Qatar refused to allow teams to wear armbands with the words “OneLove” in rainbow colors, which symbolizes representation for diversity and LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Teams that wore the armband would be penalized during their games, and the vast majority of those in attendance chose to abide by the rule. Yet, players of the Iran national team will most certainly face a much steeper penalty for taking a stance against their nation’s leaders on a world stage.
Iranian team literally putting their lives at risk not singing their national anthem in protest, but the English FA won’t wear the OneLove armband so that Sir Harold Kane doesn’t get a booking. Hilarious.
— Jay ? (@ScouseCommie) November 21, 2022
The show of solidarity marked an incredible move as Iran detains thousands of protesters, some of whom now have death sentences. It’s unclear whether the regime or the people will ultimately decide the course of Iran’s future, but Monday’s actions by the Iranian national team indicate the fiery will of those seeking freedom and justice continue to burn.
“And I hope that the conditions change to the expectations of the people,” Hajsafi said.
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