Iran’s national football team defied its theocratic rulers on Monday by refusing to sing the “national anthem” during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Some Iranian soccer fans in the stands joined the protest, loudly booing the anthem when a recording played over the stadium speakers.
Breaking: Iran’s national football club stands sadly and refuses to sing the clerical regime’s national anthem in the first match against England at the 2022 World Cup in protest against violence by Khamenei’s henchmen pic.twitter.com/qPmX2hdMKP
— Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒 (@borzou) November 21, 2022
Some members of the crowd waved protest placards, including bloodstained images of the Iranian flag and the protest movement’s slogan, “Women, Life, Freedom.”
—Jonathan Swain (@SwainITV) November 21, 2022
As critics of the regime are quick to point out, the song in question is not really “Iran’s national anthem” – it is the islamic republic anthemthe extremist theocracy that seized power in a violent uprising in 1979.
When the regime’s first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died in 1989, a new anthem was writing to replace the song embraced by its revolutionary movement. Many Iranian dissidents refuse to recognize either of the songs of theocracy as a national anthem, especially since the very short anthem written in 1989 is explicitly an oath of loyalty to the “Islamic Republic”, and not to the Iranian nation.
It’s not our national anthem…it’s the national anthem of the Islamic Republic, an occupying force in Iran.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 یاشار (@yashar) November 21, 2022
The World Cup squad, known as “Team Melli”, was critical for giving tacit support to the brutal regime in Tehran by agreeing to play as massive protests against theocracy sweep the country.
Iranian social networks exploded of anger and dismay when Team Melli players were pictured nodding submissively during a meeting with hardline president Ebrahim Raisi before departing for the World Cup in Qatar. Some Iranians were appalled enough to say they would support England against Iran in Monday’s game.
The uprising began in September after a young woman named Mahsa Amini was kill by the thugs’ “morals police” for allegedly wearing his compulsory headscarf inappropriately. The number of bodies is constantly increasing as regime uses lethal force to quell protests, defying human rights punishments from the United States and Europe.
Even as the people of Iran pleaded with its hugely popular football team to support the protests, regime officials threatened to severely punish any player who dared to do so. In November, Raisi asked officials from World Cup host Qatar to help “foresee and prevent possible problems” with Iranian players.
Sardar Azmoun, Melli team player openly expressed support for Amini’s protests in a September Instagram post, but it was later deleted, and other players avoided commenting on the protests until Sunday, when team captain Ehsan Hajsafi hinted at the uprising in terms of support at a press conference.
“First of all, I would like to express my condolences to all the bereaved families in Iran. They should know that we are with them, that we support them and that we sympathize with them,” Hajsafi declared.
“We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not good and our people are not happy. We are here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice. Everything we have comes from them. We have to fight, we have to do our best and score goals, and present the results to the brave people of Iran. I hope the conditions will change as to people’s expectations,” he said.
The Iranian water polo team also refuse singing the anthem during a match in Thailand two weeks ago, and the Iranian beach soccer team refused to sing the anthem ahead of a game against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai the week before.
One of the beach soccer players went one step further after winning a game against Brazil by mimicking a haircut – a gesture of defiance against the Iranian theocracy which alludes to the morality police killing Amini because a strand of hair was sticking out from under her headscarf.