World Cup 2022: Watch Iran Players Refuse to Sing National Anthem to Protest Political Crisis at Home

World Cup 2022: Watch Iran Players Refuse to Sing National Anthem to Protest Political Crisis at Home

  • Members of the Iran national team could face the wrath of their Supreme Leader back home, after they refused to sing the national anthem in Qatar
  • The players remained mum as the stadium's sound systems belted their national anthem, in a clear protest against the crisis back at home
  • Iran is currently in a crisis, experiencing nationwide protests against the current regime that has been accused of violating human rights

The Qatar World Cup has been marred by many controversies, from the time they were awarded hosting rights in 2010 by former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Issues ranging from homosexual rights to migrant workers' rights have threatened to derail the first-ever World Cup to be held in the Middle East.

Iran, Ali Khamenei, political protests, Khalifa Stadium
Iran players remain silent as their national anthem is sung ahead of their match against England. Photo by Fadel Senna.
Source: Getty Images

But amidst all the issues facing Qatar, other countries have been grappling with issues of their own as well. Iran came into this World Cup on the back of lawlessness and protests back home.

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Iran protest against Khamenei's regime

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei has been at the helm of the nationwide protests and uprising witnessed in the country.

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His regime has been marked by rampant abuse of women's rights, with Iran International reporting that close to 400 people have been killed by his security forces in the last two months.

Some players have been vocal against his leadership and on November 21, when the team lined up to face England in their opening game at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, players unanimously refused to sing the national anthem.

Independent's correspondent Borzou Daragahi reports that the team took a great risk given, that Ali's regime has issued arrest warrants for the football legends who have spoken against him.

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Iran: women rights trampled on

Daragahi adds that famous actresses have even been arrested for simply appearing without a hijab in public. The fans in the stadium booed as the anthem was sung, as others shouted for 'Women. Life. Freedom.'

The team didn't celebrate the two goals they scored either, which has been interpreted as further protests against the regime. However, the two goals were scored a little bit too late as England walloped them 6-2.

Teams abandon OneLove armband plans

Sports Brief earlier reported that England, Germany and five other European teams at the World Cup abandoned plans to wear a rainbow-themed armband in support of LGBTQ rights on Monday, citing the threat of disciplinary action from FIFA.

"FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play," the seven teams said in a joint statement.

Under FIFA rules, players wearing kit not authorised by the world football body could be shown a yellow card.