Iran players stay silent during national anthem at World Cup, fans boo against backdrop of protests

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Iran’s players did not sing their national anthem ahead off their opening World Cup match with England.

Fans reportedly booed, and held up signs in support of widespread protests that have swept the country in recent months.

The protests and civil unrest in Iran began after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody in September after she had been arrested by the Guidance Patrol for not complying with rules on head coverings.

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DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 21: Iran fans hold up protest signs ahead of 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 Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Image

Image credit: Getty Images

Some Iranian players – most notably Bayer Leverkusen forward Sardar Azmoun – have spoken out in support of the movement sweeping Iran.

Earlier on Monday, England, Wales, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands announced they will not wear One Love armbands at the World Cup.

The decision to not wear the armband comes after it was confirmed that captains who wore it would face disciplinary action in the form of a yellow card.

The armband – which included a “heart containing colours representative of all backgrounds” – was proposed by the UEFA Working Group in support of inclusion and diversity. Same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar.
On Monday, FIFA released a statement stating that its ‘No Discrimination’ campaign would now start during the group stages after it was originally planned for the quarter-finals. The statement added that messaging opportunities for the campaign would be provided to the participating teams via captains’ armbands and that as per FIFA regulations “the captain of each team must wear the captain’s armband provided by FIFA.”

Speaking before the game on BBC former England defender Rio Ferdinand said that federations needed to be stronger.

“I think the federations have to be stronger,” the former England and Manchester United captain Ferdinand said on the BBC.

“The organisations have to come at this together with a unified approach and say this is where we stand, this is where we go now.

“They’ve had one bump in the road and they’ve folded like a pack of cards.”

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