World Cup 2022: Iran players decline to sing national anthem

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DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Iran players line up for the national anthem prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Iran declined to sing their national anthem before their World Cup match with England in an apparent expression of support for anti-government protests in their home country. Some fans shouted and jeered during the anthem and others held up signs saying “Woman, Life, Freedom”.

Iran state TV cut its coverage of the anthem and switched to a previously shown wide shot of the stadium. Mass protests have been met with a fierce crackdown in recent months. They have been sparked by the death in custody in September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police for allegedly breaking the strict rules around head coverings.

Human rights activists have said more than 400 protesters have been killed and 16,800 others arrested in a crackdown by Iran’s security forces. Iran’s leaders say the protests are “riots” orchestrated by the country’s foreign enemies.

Iranian fans could also be heard chanting “Ali Karimi” in the first-half in reference to the former footballer who is one of the most outspoken critics of the Islamic Republic and one of the most popular faces of the protest movement.

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