In their Monday World Cup group stage match against England, the Iranian football team’s players objected to the playing of their country’s anthem.
Asia’s top-ranked team enters the competition against a backdrop of widespread anti-regime demonstrations at home following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in police custody in September after she was detained for allegedly inappropriately wearing her headscarf. Mahsa was arrested for this reason.
Prior to Monday’s match against England, Iran captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh had earlier declined to say whether his team would perform the national anthem.
In the past, Iranian athletes have supported the protests by donning black jackets over the nation’s emblems during a friendly this year, and some have even opted to not celebrate goals.
Although Jahanbakhsh said the squad had addressed the matter, he did not specify whether or not they planned to protest. Iranian national teams in other sports have recently refrained from singing the national anthem during competitions.
The Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran controls the Iran national football team, known by FIFA as IR Iran, which plays for Iran on the international stage (FFIRI).
Iran has three Asian Cup titles to its name at the continental level, from 1968, 1972, and 1976. At the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the country’s greatest Olympic result was making it to the quarterfinals. Iran has qualified for the FIFA World Cup six times (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018, and 2022), but has never advanced past the group stages. They have only won two games: against with the United States in 1998 as well as Morocco in 2018.
Ebrahim Raisi, the president of Iran, has advised his administration to be ready for any difficulties. Iran International, a Farsi news outlet extensively covering the Iranian opposition and funded by Saudi Arabia, said that Qatari officials had denied its correspondents access to the World Cup as a result of Iranian pressure.
Iranian athletes are already the subject of intense media attention. Elnaz Rekabi, an Iranian climber, attracted attention for defying her nation’s dress code by competing in South Korea without donning the head covering required by law.